Butterfly at Texas, USA hummingbird feeder


This video says about itself:

Butterfly Visits West Texas Hummingbird Feeder – Sept. 19, 2017

19 September 2017

Hummingbirds aren’t the only nectar loving animal in West Texas!

Watch live at http://allaboutbirds.org/texashummers for more information about hummingbirds and highlights from the feeders.

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Monarch butterflies are in trouble


This video says about itself:

7 June 2016

The largest insect migration in the world ends each year in Michoacán, Mexico. Millions of monarch butterflies travel from the United States and Canada to pass the cold months in the towering trees of this beautiful forest. On their journey, the butterflies travel around 2,800 miles.

From the Entomological Society of America:

Damage to monarch butterfly colonies in 2016 storm worse than thought

Severe cold, snow, and high winds — and salvage logging that followed — weakened forest that protects declining butterfly

September 17, 2017

A much greater number of monarch butterflies perished in a snowstorm in March 2016 in Mexico than previously estimated, according to new research. Analysis of damage from the storm — and the ensuing salvage logging — sheds further light on the precarious state of the famed butterflies’ overwintering colonies.

Approximately 30-38 percent of the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón overwintering colonies died in the storm, says a team led by Lincoln Brower, Ph.D., research professor of biology at Sweet Briar College, far more than the estimated 7 percent mortality rate cited in initial media reports after the storm that struck between March 7 and March 11, 2016. The researchers’ findings are reported in the latest issue of the Entomological Society of America’s American Entomologist.

The storm was a severe combination of rain, snow, sleet, and hail along with strong winds and sub-freezing temperatures that downed several thousand Oyamel firs within the forests of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 2008. Typically, the dense forest creates a favorable “microclimate” for the monarchs, protecting them from exposure to intense winds, rain, and cold temperatures.

“The prolonged severe storm destroyed the normal microclimatic protection provided by the intact Oyamel forest and led to freezing in all the colonies,” Brower says. “This awakened us to the realization that the forest surrounding the butterfly colonies also needs to be protected, as a generalized wind buffer.”

Brower and colleagues counted dead butterflies in random plots within the colonies to estimate the total mortality rate from the storm: 31 percent in the Sierra Chincua colony and 38 percent in the Cerro Pelón colony. The true impact may still have been greater, however, as the researchers’ analysis of weather data from stations within and surrounding the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, measured against existing research on monarch butterfly mortality in freezing temperatures, “support the conclusion that the March 2016 storm mortality … was substantially greater than 40 percent,” the researchers report.

Following the storm, the Mexican government permitted salvage logging to remove downed trees, due to concerns over potential fire or insect damage. Brower and colleagues argue, however, that the logging process was “profoundly disturbing and detrimental to the environment,” decreasing the forest’s ability to return to maturity and provide safe haven for the butterflies. A volume of 60,000 cubic meters of timber was approved for removal — equivalent to several thousand trees — which follows an incident of illegal logging occurring in the monarch reserve in 2015, reported in American Entomologist last year.

Brower was recently named a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, in recognition of his career devoted to studying and raising awareness of the monarch butterfly and its overwintering colonies. Since the 1996-1997 overwintering season, the monarchs‘ colonies have declined in size by 90 percent. After more than 60 years, Brower’s work carries on, he says. “We hope to carry out a drone study, photographing the colonies from a standard height above the butterflies and then using photometric analysis to estimate changing colony densities,” he says. “We are concerned that the current methodology of reporting only total colony areas is underestimating the decline of monarchs overwintering in Mexico.”

Butterflies in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

7 August 2017

Beautiful Clouded Sulfur Butterflies, Swallowtail Butterflies and other pollinators set to relaxing ambient music.

Amazon butterflies different sexes, not different species


The iridescent blue male sunburst cerulean-satyr, Caeruleuptychia helios, top, was not linked with its female counterpart, bottom, until DNA bar codes showed they were the same species. Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History, photo by Shinichi Nakahara

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

DNA links male, female butterfly thought to be distinct species

July 27, 2017

Researchers recently discovered what was thought to be a distinct species of butterfly is actually the female of a species known to science for more than a century.

An international team of nine butterfly researchers from the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., Peru and Germany used DNA sequence data to associate the female sunburst cerulean-satyr, or Caeruleuptychia helios, an Amazonian brush-footed butterfly, with its male counterpart.

Males and females of this group look dramatically different from each other, a phenomenon known as sexual dimorphism, and the species was named and described in 1911 based on the brilliantly iridescent blue males. Rarer than the male, the brown female was considered another species and was recently named and placed in a different genus, Magneuptychia keltoumae.

A study correcting the classification error was published in Insect Systematics and Evolution.

“Our study will serve as the basis for developing a firm understanding of true species diversity of this group and of Neotropical butterflies in general,” said Shinichi Nakahara, the study’s lead author and a research associate at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the University of Florida. “These findings are extremely valuable at a time when the biodiversity of the Neotropics is threatened since it will be impossible to recognize and document the region’s unique elements of biodiversity after they are gone.”

As part of the project, DNA bar codes — short, diagnostic gene sequences — were collected and analyzed for more than 300 species across the euptychiines group of butterflies.

The DNA sequences of Caeruleuptychia helios and Magneuptychia keltoumae were identical.

“None of us thought about this possibility before, and we were all surprised by this outcome of our DNA analysis,” Nakahara said. “Given that males and females of most euptychiine butterflies look more or less the same, I guess no one thought that the female would be so different compared to the male.”

The discovery of the female contributed to the recognition of the male and female of two other species in this group, including a new species from cloud forests in eastern Ecuador, Trembath’s cerulean-satyr, or Caeruleuptychia trembathi. The different-looking males and females of the two species make this group one of the most sexually dimorphic among butterflies.

“This research increases the number of cases of euptychiine butterflies known where the males display bright colors, but the females have the dull, brown wings typical of most species in the group,” said Keith Willmott, a study co-author and associate curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum.

A better understanding of the species diversity and relationships among euptychiines will make it possible to think about broader questions, such as how they have diversified and the role wing patterns play in signaling between the sexes, Nakahara said.

“Fortunately, the butterflies are much better at distinguishing one another among the hundreds of other similar species than butterfly experts are,” he said.