The importance of butterfly gardens, butterflies and their adaptations, and importance to the ecosystem.
Have you ever had a chance to glimpse into a butterfly garden? If so, undoubtedly you may have sensed the beauty of it. A butterfly garden is a place where you may feel different from the outside world. It’s because you are in an artificial environment where temperature, light, and humidity are controlled to provide a satisfactory dwelling place to these miniature vivid insects including their cocoons and larvae. Once you deeply learn this science of butterflies, you’ll be astonished to be an enthusiastic butterfly watcher for sure.
What are butterflies?
Butterflies are insects belonging to the family Lepidoptera in the phylum Arthropoda. The meaning of the Greek word “Lepidoptera” is Scaly wings which is a perfectly matching name when considering butterflies as their wings are covered with thousands of petite scales which gives a vibrant nature to their wings. Butterflies too have six legs, two antennae, an exoskeleton and three body parts namely: head, thorax and the abdomen, a common unique feature to insects. The vivid wings of the butterflies make them unique from the other insects.
Butterflies have life cycle with complete metamorphosis which has distinct differences in each of the stages in the life cycle. These stages include eggs, larvae also called as the caterpillar, pupa, and adult butterfly.
What are their adaptations?
Butterflies show many adaptations in their life cycle in order to survive in the environment. The evolutionary trend of insects had emerged to butterflies. Throughout their lifecycle butterflies show different types of adaptations in order to survive in the ecosystem. The eggs are laid by the female butterflies on the surface of leaves where the larvae do not have to spend much effort on finding food once the eggs are hatched. The caterpillar has a voracious appetite and eats almost constantly. Through this stage, the caterpillar sheds its exoskeleton as they grow. This process is called ‘molting’ and helps the caterpillars to grow as stages. This is an important adaptation to maintain their growth.
The pupal stage is where all the food the caterpillar ate converts into energy for the transformation of a butterfly. The pupa is covered themselves inside a cocoon and hibernate for a period of time. The duration of hibernation differs according to the species of butterflies. During the transformation, the exoskeleton of a caterpillar is broken, and the chrysalis revealed. The caterpillar structure is vanished and rearranged into wings, bodies, and legs of the adult butterfly. The lifespan of the adult butterfly distinctly differs according to their species. Some only live for two weeks while some live for 18 months long.
Diving into a butterfly garden.
A butterfly garden is a place that has specific conditions which are monitored throughout the entire period of the year. Also, it’s an artificial habitat with colorful plants and flowers to provide optimum temperature, humidity, and light which are the most essential factors to complete a butterfly’s life cycle. This will aid them to put on beauty to the environment. A butterfly garden is a place it assures protection to butterflies, caterpillars, and cocoons from predators and unfavorable environmental conditions. In terms of conservation, it’s an ex-situ conservation process with the nickname “Butterfly garden”.
Why we need butterfly gardens?
There are many biotic as well as abiotic factors that is essential for the survival organism on the earth. Throughout the evolution, man had changed some of the parameters of these abiotic factors. Especially when considering the amount of sunlight entering the earth, it has been decreased by smoke, fogs, and deforestation. These have affected directly the survival and reproduction of butterflies as their behavior, physiology, and ecology are tightly bound with the light in their environment. This is mainly due to insects’ dependence on ultraviolet light for their sensations in the environment.
Importance of butterfly gardens to the ecosystem.
Have you ever thought to hoe the fruits and vegetables that come to you were grown from a flower to a fruit? It’s through a process called pollination. Butterflies can be identified as the main type of organism immensely contributing to this process. Pollination also an essential factor in plant reproduction. Unless plants produce foods, other heterotrophs do not get food. To continue the life of plants on earth reproduction is essential. Therefore, butterflies considered an immensely beneficial insect for the ecosystem. Butterfly species have been endangered due to air and light pollution as these insects have highly sensitive receptors to light and air. The conservation of butterflies has been an essential factor to maintain the ecological balance. During a short lifespan, these tiny creatures should be protected and conserved for having a great diversity in our environment.
Get together with us to protect this amazing colourful miniatures and help our ecosystem to make a better place for butterflies!
By Rtr. Mohamed Izad
- Steinberg, S. R. (2020) ‘Exodus at home: a narrative introspection on what matters’, Qualitative Research Journal, 20(4), pp. 411–414. doi: 10.1108/QRJ-07-2020-0085.
- Uky.edu. 2021. All about butterflies | Department of Horticulture. [online] Available at: <https://www.uky.edu/hort/butterflies/all-about-butterflies> [Accessed 26 May 2021].
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