Butterflies re-emerging in Dutch spring


This video is called Astonishing European Butterflies and Moths.

Translated from the Dutch butterfly foundation today:

Most of the butterflies that in recent weeks have been reported to Waarneming.nl and Telmee had wintered as butterflies and have emerged on the first sunny spring days. The brimstone is the most reported species (2000), followed by small tortoiseshell (1700), peacock butterfly (330), red admiral (290) and comma (180).

And now, species which had wintered while in the pupa stage have started emerging as well.

Australian stick insect, Mexican butterfly in botanical garden


Giant prickly stick insect, 22 March 2015

22 March 2015. To the botanical garden. On a smallish Eucalyptus tree in a pot in a hothouse, this adult giant prickly stick insect from Australia.

Before we had arrived at the garden, a song thrush sang from the top of a tree near a parking lot.

In the botanical garden, ring-necked parakeets flying and calling.

In the Victoria amazonica hothouse, we saw this gold-edged owl-butterfly. It was an old individual, with damaged wings.

Caligo uranus, 22 March 2015

First, we saw the upper side of its wings.

Caligo uranus, lower side, 22 March 2015

Then, the lower side.

Outside, bees had discovered the spring flowers.

Butterflies flying again


This video says about itself:

Scarce Tortoiseshell Feeds on Oak Sap ヒオドシチョウがミズナラ樹液を吸汁

9 February 2014

A Scarce Tortoiseshell (aka Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell; Nymphalis xanthomelas japonica, family Nymphalidae) feeding on the fermenting sap of an oak tree (Quercus crispula, family Fagaceae). October 2013 in Japan.

Translated from the Dutch butterfly foundation:

Monday, March 9th, 2015

It was a beautiful sunny weekend and that was evident from the butterflies flocking, having left their wintering areas. Many people on Saturday and especially on Sunday saw their first butterfly of 2015. The brimstone was absolutely the most frequent species, but most special were the six scarce tortoiseshells.

Nearly 1500 brimstone butterflies were seen on 7-8 March.

Scarce tortoiseshells are an east European and Asian species. Last year, they were seen in the Netherlands for the first time. It turns out now that some have survived the winter.

Millions of Dutch butterflies counted


This is a Dutch video about butterflies.

25 years ago, in the Netherlands, the Nederlandse Vlindermeetnet was founded, an organisation for butterfly research.

Millions of butterflies have been counted in those years. Including meadow brown, the most often seen species: 954,959 individuals.

Since 25 years ago, 18 species have increased, 9 species are stable, 24 species have declined.

Speckled wood have increased, especially since 2000, both at places where they already lived and at new places.

Arctic skippers have increased too, but only at places were the species already occurred.

Among the butterfly species which have declined most are large chequered skipper and tree grayling; both with a decline of over 90%.

Hong Kong butterflies decline


This video says about itself:

Hong Kong Wetland Park spotlights butterflies

30 April 2013

With their fantastic colors and fanciful wings, butterflies are one of nature’s most enticing creatures for photographers and insect lovers. “The Flying Beauties” exhibition is now open at Hong Kong Wetland Park, featuring the most common butterfly species in Hong Kong and specimens from around the world. Visitors can learn more about butterfly anatomy, life cycle, survival strategies and courtship behaviour.

The park will host related activities, aimed at enhancing awareness of butterfly conservation. Wetland Park Manager (Education & Community Services) Josephine Cheng said Wetland Park’s Butterfly Garden offers an ideal habitat for butterflies and is a great spot for butterfly watching. The park has abundant nectar and larval food plants, and recorded 157 species — about 60% of the total number of butterfly species in Hong Kong.

Showcases also offer visitors a rare opportunity to get close-up and observe caterpillars feeding on young leaves. Survival strategies – More than 500 specimens help illustrate a butterfly’s life cycle in the park’s scenic models, including living, eating and mating habits. To avoid predators such as birds, butterflies have special strategies. “Some butterflies can pretend to be some similar but poisonous species, with colorful patterns on their wings, to avoid having their predators eat them, while some other species pretend to be a leaf so that they can hide themselves in the natural environment,” Miss Cheng said.

Special events – Wetland Park is presenting the exhibition from April to October 28. Butterfly specialists will share their knowledge and tips, including techniques for identifying and photographing them, in lectures to be held during the exhibition period. Speakers will also share worldwide hotspots for butterfly watching and the importance of butterfly conservation. Guided tours will teach participants about common species in Hong Kong. The park is also organising a photo collection activity, playgroups and a butterfly cotton bag-making class.

From the South China Morning Post:

Butterfly numbers dip at key Tuen Mun site in Hong Kong

Ernest Kao

Thursday, 12 February, 2015, 12:35am

The number of butterflies spending the winter at a key Tuen Mun site fell to a six-year low this season, possibly due to a changing climate and disruptions to migratory patterns, a study has found.

According to environmental group Green Power, which conducted the study between November and last month, the number of danaidae butterflies at Siu Lang Shui – a wooded former landfill site near Butterfly Beach – dropped over 80 per cent this winter.

From the 230 recorded in 2013-14, the number fell to just 41 this winter, the lowest since the green group’s first survey in the winter of 2009-10.

Danaidae, or milkweed butterflies, are a common subspecies [rather, a family, or subfamily]. They include the crow, tiger and monarch butterflies.

The group’s senior environmental affairs manager, Matthew Sin Kar-wah, said numbers fluctuated from year to year. They hit a high of 5,469 in 2012-13, before dropping again this winter.

It is not known what caused the sudden surge in 2012, nor the reasons for this winter’s drop.

“When everyone was disappointed about the low numbers, it suddenly jumped back up in 2012 and we all thought it was a recovery,” said Sin. “That is why we can’t say for sure whether [this year’s] drop indicates a good or bad trend.”

Two other major sites – Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong Island and Fan Lau on Lantau Island – also saw major drops.

The group suspects two factors are at play. One was a relatively warmer climate in East Asia, which may have deterred the butterflies from flying further to escape harsh winters.

Another possible reason was a change in the environment of stopover points along migratory routes. Rapid urban development on the southern mainland may have altered or even destroyed natural habitats, disrupting migratory patterns, Sin said.

Monarch butterfly news


This video is called Monarch Mania! Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle.

From mongabay.com:

Monarch butterfly population rises a little, but still perilously low

Jeremy Hance

January 28, 2015

The world’s migrating monarch butterfly population has bounced back slightly from its record low last year, but the new numbers are still the second smallest on record. According to WWF-Mexico and the Mexican government, butterflies covered 2.79 acres (1.13 hectares) in nine colonies this year in the Mexican forests where the insects overwinter. This is a 69 percent increase from last year’s nadir of just 1.65 acres (0.67 hectares), however, the new numbers remain hugely concerning.

“The population increase is welcome news, but the monarch must reach a much larger population size to be able to bounce back from ups and downs,” said researcher Tierra Curry with the Center for Biological Diversity, adding that “this much-loved butterfly still needs Endangered Species Act protection to ensure that it’s around for future generations.”

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would consider adding the vanishing insect under the country’s Endangered Species Act. Currently, the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is not at risk of extinction, but its migration is. Monarch butterflies in the Eastern U.S. are famous for their epic migration spanning some 1,900 to 4,500 kilometers (1,200 to 2,800 miles) from Canada to the mountains of central Mexico every year. Each migration takes several monarch generations to complete, often three to four.

In the 1990s—when scientists first started counting the area filled by migrating monarch butterflies in Mexico—the overwintering habitat never dipped below 13 acres (five hectares). The largest population covered 44.95 acres (18.19 hectares) in 1993. But the trend over the last decade has been one of extensive decline, with various rises and falls.

A decade ago, conservationists were largely concerned with deforestation and illegal logging in Mexico’s overwintering forests. However, due to work by indigenous groups, locals, and the Mexican government that threat has been largely neutralized, at least for the time being. Today the biggest threat is the loss of food and habitat across the U.S. and Canada due to herbicides and increasingly intensified agriculture.

According to WWF, herbicide use in the U.S. for soy and corn killed off 58 percent of the country’s milkweed from 1999 to 2010, resulting in a monarch decline of 81 percent. The development of genetically modified crops has exacerbated the situation as these crops are resistant to the popular herbicide, Roundup. However, Roundup and other herbicides containing glyphosate decimate milkweed populations. Monarch butterfly caterpillars feed solely on milkweed, meaning the species requires a road of milkweed from Canada through Eastern and Central U.S. down to Mexico in order to survive. But agriculture policy in the last couple decades, especially in the U.S., has resulted in a massively fragmented milkweed route.

“The 2.79 acres occupied by monarchs this winter should serve as additional motivation for the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States to translate the commitment they made in Mexico in February 2014, to concrete and immediate actions,” said Omar Vidal, Director General of WWF-Mexico. “It is crucial that we restore and protect the habitat of this iconic species in all three countries, but above all that we limit the use of herbicide and land conversion in the United States and maintain efforts to avoid deforestation in Mexico.”

Conservationists say that planting milkweed in gardens may benefit the monarch, however gardeners must plant the right variety of milkweed and make sure the milkweed hasn’t been coated with a popular insecticide in the neonicotinoid family. Research has shown that neonicotinoids may harm pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

Monarch butterflies aren’t the only pollinators in trouble, many of the world’s pollinators have undergone drastic declines in recent decades. Experts point to possible impacts such as pesticides, habitat loss, and disease.

For monarch butterflies, loss of migration means more disease: here.

Monsanto’s Roundup system threatens extinction of monarch butterflies – report.

Morpho butterflies and stick insects at the botanical garden


This video says about itself:

16 December 2014

What does it mean to be blue? The wings of a Morpho butterfly are some of the most brilliant structures in nature, and yet they contain no blue pigment — they harness the physics of light at the nanoscale. Learn more about these butterflies here.

On 11 January 2015, to the botanical garden again.

In the biggest hothouse, two aquariums. One for bigger fish species, like Botia histrionica. And one for smaller species like wrestling halfbeak; and some shrimp.

In the Victoria amazonica hothouse, again morpho butterflies. Today, they don’t show their blue upper sides of their wings, but the brownish undersides, while sitting on red mangrove bushes on the pond banks. Red mangrove belongs in the Indo-Pacific region; not in the morpho butterflies’ native Americas. The morphos didn’t seem to mind.

There were morpho caterpillars as well. On the pot of a peanut plant. Peanut plants, contrary to red mangrove, are native to South America. And they belong to the Fabaceae family, favoured by morpho caterpillars for food.

This video is about Morpho peleides caterpillars.

This video is called Hatching of Blue Morpho butterflies (Morpho peleides).

The axolotls are still in their aquarium, not far from the orchids.

In a hothouse beyond the Victoria amazonica and the orchids, a smallish Eucalyptus tree in a pot. Several adult giant prickly stick insects from Australia in the tree. A juvenile on the rim of the pot.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Extatosoma tiaratum has the common names giant prickly stick insect, spiny leaf insect, Macleay’s spectre, and as the guide at the San Bernardino Natural History Museum calls them, the giant Australian leaf insect. The giant Australian leaf insect is a large species of stick insect endemic to Australia. It has big “bug eyes” like a cartoon character!

Outside in the garden, a blue tit and great tits.

Many blackbirds feeding on fruit which has fallen from trees.