I'm sure you're wondering what those numbers mean, right? It might surprise you to know that there are least 150,000 different kinds of pollinators in our world. The problem is, they're in danger. We all know this. We hear people shouting to save the pollinators! all the time. That's where that next number comes into play. 20. We have twenty years until Monarch butterflies go extinct if we don't do something. What does 1 mean? Well, it only takes one person to change that. If we all do one thing to help the pollinators, then we can keep that 20 number from happening and keep that 150,000 number strong. Today, I'm focusing on butterflies, since it ties to my release next week for my new novel, Butterflies and Hazel Eyes.
The adult female monarch butterfly lays tiny eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves. Milkweed leaves are toxic, so they aren’t bothered by predators. Once hatched, the caterpillar survives on these leaves. Both the caterpillar and adult Monarch harbor the poison from milkweed leaves in their body, which protects them from being eaten by predators.
We all know that Monarch butterflies can’t bite, right? Did you know that they have to drink through a ‘straw’? It’s called a proboscis and it draws the nectar up like an eyedropper. Monarchs are beautiful and their bright orange lets you spot them from a mile away, but did you know there’s another reason for their color? It’s a warning to their predators that they are rocking some poison on board and they should stay away.
In the fall, the Monarch butterflies fly 2-3,000 miles to the forests of Mexico and California. Then they turn around and fly back in the spring! They will fly up to one hundred miles a day to get to their destination in time. Monarch migration is breathtaking! Of course, Monarchs only live two to six weeks, except for the final ‘generation’ of butterflies, which are the ones that actually migrate in the fall. They will live eight to nine months.
Did you know that the morpho, or Nymphalidae, family of butterflies get their names because they appear to change shape as they’re flying? There are many types and colors of morpho butterflies from blue, brown, green and the rare white morpho. Ironically, female blue morpho butterflies aren’t even blue! Blue Moprho butterflies will catch the attention of predators, so the underside of their wings are brown, black, and grey to blend in with camouflage. They also have ‘eyespots’ on their wings that will deter predators while they rest.
The males have the bright blue coloring on their wings to intimidate other males, since this butterfly is very territorial. It also makes them more visible to potential mates. The females are not blue at all and have wings in shades of brown, yellow and black. A Blue Morpho’s wings might look blue, but they aren’t blue at all. The blue is caused by light reflecting off the microscopic scales on its wings. We know this as iridescence, an optical illusion that describes the changing of hues depending on the angle in which we see them.
A polygonia interrogationis, which is a total mouthful, is known as a question mark butterfly to enthusiasts because the hindwings have a dots that form a question mark. These are incredibly interesting butterflies. They lay green eggs and they stack them one on top of the other. They have pink silk and attach in a J-shape to pupate. In only one day, the caterpillar pupates into a brown chrysalis with metallic spots. Question Mark butterflies have nastier tastes than most butterflies. They love to drink from rotting fruit, tree sap and yes, animal dung. Aren’t you glad you know that?
Gulf Fritillary butterflies are orange with black spots, but the males are brighter than females. These butterflies are found in the lower half of the US and they lay their eggs singly on or off a plant. Once hatched, the caterpillar eats the eggshell and then turns to passionvine to fuel up. Adult Gulf Fritillary butterflies emerge from their chrysalis in the middle of the summer, and always around day nine after pupating. The mating dance of the Gulf fritillary is unusual. The male flies over and around a female. If the female doesn’t want to mate, she lands and leans her wings toward the male when he lands beside her. This prevents him from pairing with her. We all know what we'd call that in this day and age!
It’s relatively obvious how the glasswing butterfly gets its name. They have transparent wings, usually with an outline of black or orange, though the colors will vary. The reason for their transparent wings is this butterfly has no colored scales, which we learned with the blue morpho is necessary for iridescence. With a name like the glasswing butterfly, you’d expect it to be fragile, but these butterflies are strong and hardy. It can carry almost forty times its own weight and is incredibly fast, flying up to eight miles an hour in short bursts. The glasswing butterfly is most common around Central America, extending up into portions of lower North America. It eats Aster flowers, as their nectar is critical to its survival.
These are just a few of the 17,500 species of butterflies that call this planet home. I picked the butterflies that are mentioned in my new book Butterflies & Hazel Eyes, but there are so many beautiful butterflies out there that we don't want to risk losing! Here are some things you can do to help save the butterflies:
There are many companies out there doing there part to help save the pollinators. I wanted to bring a few of those to your attention. That way, the next time you think about buying a product like this, you can buy from a company actively working to save the pollinators!
I can't end this blog post without a shameless plug for my new novel! Considering the title of this series is Butterfly Junction, and what they do there is work to save the pollinators, I think it applies :)
Charity races against the clock to save Gulliver's research from falling into the wrong hands, but if she can’t, and his eco-friendly pesticide never sees the light of day, pollinators everywhere will be in peril. Against the backdrop of Lady Superior, romance takes flight, but dangerous intentions lurk in the deep, cold water.
When the Lady of the Lake calls, she expects you to listen...
You can pre-order Butterflies and Hazel Eyes today and be ready to visit Plentiful, Wisconsin and Butterfly Junction on release day, April 22!
Katie Mettner wears the title of 'the only person to lose her leg after falling down the bunny hill' and loves decorating her prosthetic leg to fit the season.
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