Manual Of Moths and Butterflies

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Usually, the pheromones are produced by either the male or the female and detected by members of the opposite sex with their antennae. Moths are known to engage in acoustic forms of communication, most often as courtship, attracting mates using sound or vibration. Like most other insects, moths pick up these sounds using tympanic membranes in their abdomens.

These sounds also function as tactile communication, or communication through touch, as they stridulate, or vibrate a substrate like leaves and stems.

Most moths lack bright colors, as many species use coloration as camouflage , but butterflies engage in visual communication. Female cabbage butterflies , for example, use ultraviolet light to communicate, with scales colored in this range on the dorsal wing surface. When they fly, each down stroke of the wing creates a brief flash of ultraviolet light which the males apparently recognize as the flight signature of a potential mate.

These flashes from the wings may attract several males that engage in aerial courtship displays. Moths and butterflies are important in the natural ecosystem. They are integral participants in the food chain; having co-evolved with flowering plants and predators, lepidopteran species have formed a network of trophic relationships between autotrophs and heterotrophs , which are included in the stages of Lepidoptera larvae, pupae, and adults. Larvae and pupae are links in the diets of birds and parasitic entomophagous insects. The adults are included in food webs in a much broader range of consumers including birds, small mammals, reptiles, etc.

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Lepidopteran species are soft bodied, fragile, and almost defenseless, while the immature stages move slowly or are immobile, hence all stages are exposed to predation. Adult butterflies and moths are preyed upon by birds , bats , lizards , amphibians , dragonflies , and spiders. Caterpillars and pupae fall prey not only to birds, but also to invertebrate predators and small mammals, as well as fungi and bacteria.

Parasitoid and parasitic wasps and flies may lay eggs in the caterpillar, which eventually kill it as they hatch inside its body and eat its tissues. Insect-eating birds are probably the largest predators. Lepidoptera, especially the immature stages, are an ecologically important food to many insectivorous birds, such as the great tit in Europe.

An " evolutionary arms race " can be seen between predator and prey species. The Lepidoptera have developed a number of strategies for defense and protection, including evolution of morphological characters and changes in ecological lifestyles and behaviors. These include aposematism , mimicry , camouflage , and development of threat patterns and displays.

Their main predators are bats.

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Again, an "evolutionary race" exists, which has led to numerous evolutionary adaptations of moths to escape from their main predators, such as the ability to hear ultrasonic sounds, or even to emit sounds in some cases. Lepidopteran eggs are also preyed upon. Some caterpillars, such as the zebra swallowtail butterfly larvae, are cannibalistic. Some species of Lepidoptera are poisonous to predators, such as the monarch butterfly in the Americas, Atrophaneura species roses, windmills, etc.

They obtain their toxicity by sequestering the chemicals from the plants they eat into their own tissues. Some Lepidoptera manufacture their own toxins. Predators that eat poisonous butterflies and moths may become sick and vomit violently, learning not to eat those species. A predator which has previously eaten a poisonous lepidopteran may avoid other species with similar markings in the future, thus saving many other species, as well.

This phenomenon is known as aposematism.

8 Differences Between Butterflies and Moths

Camouflage is also an important defense strategy, which involves the use of coloration or shape to blend into the surrounding environment. Some lepidopteran species blend with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot by predators. Caterpillars can exhibit shades of green that match its host plant.

Others look like inedible objects, such as twigs or leaves. For instance, the mourning cloak fades into the backdrop of trees when it folds its wings back. The larvae of some species, such as the common Mormon Papilio polytes and the western tiger swallowtail look like bird droppings. In butterflies, the spots are composed of concentric rings of scales in different colors.

The proposed role of the eyespots is to deflect attention of predators. Their resemblance to eyes provokes the predator's instinct to attack these wing patterns. Genetic polymorphism and natural selection give rise to otherwise edible species the mimic gaining a survival advantage by resembling inedible species the model.

Such a mimicry complex is referred to as Batesian and is most commonly known in the example between the limenitidine viceroy butterfly in relation to the inedible danaine monarch. Moths evidently are able to hear the range emitted by bats, which in effect causes flying moths to make evasive maneuvers because bats are a main predator of moths.

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Ultrasonic frequencies trigger a reflex action in the noctuid moth that cause it to drop a few inches in its flight to evade attack. Most species of Lepidoptera engage in some form of entomophily more specifically psychophily and phalaenophily for butterflies and moths, respectively , or the pollination of flowers. In the process, the adults brush against the flowers' stamens , on which the reproductive pollen is made and stored.

The pollen is transferred on appendages on the adults, which fly to the next flower to feed and unwittingly deposit the pollen on the stigma of the next flower, where the pollen germinates and fertilizes the seeds.

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Flowers pollinated by butterflies tend to be large and flamboyant, pink or lavender in color, frequently having a landing area, and usually scented, as butterflies are typically day-flying. Since butterflies do not digest pollen except for heliconid species , [86] more nectar is offered than pollen. The flowers have simple nectar guides, with the nectaries usually hidden in narrow tubes or spurs, reached by the long "tongue" of the butterflies.

Butterflies such as Thymelicus flavus have been observed to engage in flower constancy , which means they are more likely to transfer pollen to other conspecific plants. This can be beneficial for the plants being pollinated, as flower constancy prevents the loss of pollen during different flights and the pollinators from clogging stigmas with pollen of other flower species.

Among the more important moth pollinator groups are the hawk moths of the family Sphingidae. Their behavior is similar to hummingbirds , i.

Life Cycle of Butterflies and Moths

Most hawk moths are nocturnal or crepuscular , so moth-pollinated flowers e. A lot of nectar is produced to fuel the high metabolic rates needed to power their flight. They do not require as much nectar as the fast-flying hawk moths, and the flowers tend to be small though they may be aggregated in heads. Mutualism is a form of biological interaction wherein each individual involved benefits in some way. An example of a mutualistic relationship would be that shared by yucca moths Tegeculidae and their host, yucca flowers Liliaceae. Female yucca moths enter the host flowers, collect the pollen into a ball using specialized maxillary palps, then move to the apex of the pistil, where pollen is deposited on the stigma, and lay eggs into the base of the pistil where seeds will develop.

The larvae develop in the fruit pod and feed on a portion of the seeds. Thus, both insect and plant benefit, forming a highly mutualistic relationship. The larvae communicate with the ants using vibrations transmitted through a substrate, such as the wood of a tree or stems, as well as using chemical signals. Only 42 species of parasitoid lepidopterans are known 1 Pyralidae ; 40 Epipyropidae. In northern Europe, the wax moth is regarded as the most serious parasitoid of the bumblebee, and is found only in bumblebee nests.

In reverse, moths and butterflies may be subject to parasitic wasps and flies , which may lay eggs on the caterpillars, which hatch and feed inside its body, resulting in death. Although, in a form of parasitism called idiobiont, the adult paralyzes the host, so as not to kill it but for it to live as long as possible, for the parasitic larvae to benefit the most. In another form of parasitism, koinobiont, the species live off their hosts while inside endoparasitic.

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These parasites live inside the host caterpillar throughout its life cycle, or may affect it later on as an adult. In other orders, koinobionts include flies, a majority of coleopteran , and many hymenopteran parasitoids. In response to a parsitoid egg or larva in the caterpillar's body, the plasmatocytes , or simply the host's cells can form a multilayered capsule that eventually causes the endoparasite to asphyxiate.