The Dawn Butterfly is one of the representatives of the whitefly family. This species is divided into several subspecies, and all of them are considered diurnal. Butterfly has several names. It can be found under the name aurora, short-whiskered whitefish or core dawn. The last name is due to the close connection of the insect with the meadow plant of the same name. She lays her eggs on it, caterpillars are born on it and spend some part of their life cycle. Butterfly dawn is considered one of the most pretty and fragile among all existing butterflies.
Origin of the species and description
Aurora belongs to the arthropod insects, the Lepidoptera order, the white butterfly family. The butterfly is a representative of the subfamily pierinae, the genus anthocharis, a species of dawn. Butterfly dawn has long been considered the embodiment of grace, sophistication and fragility. In ancient Russian myths and legends, the butterfly appears in the form of the goddess of dawn, which brings daylight. The description of the butterfly, the study of the lifestyle and its cycles were carried out by Carl Linnaeus.
Paleontologists claim that butterflies are among the oldest creatures on earth. The oldest find of the ancestors of modern butterflies indicates that they existed about 200 million years ago. They appeared much earlier than the most ancient types of flowering plants. According to the discovered find, in appearance, ancient butterflies resembled moths. This find made it possible to establish that this type of insect appeared almost 50-70 million years earlier than scientists originally assumed. Initially, ornithologists tied the period of the appearance of butterflies to the period of the earth’s population of flowering plants, as the main food base for butterflies.
Video: Dawn butterfly
Another proof that butterflies appeared before flowering plants is the find of a scientist and researcher from Germany, Van de Schotbruge. The scientist and his team discovered particles of hard woody rocks on the territory of Germany about 200 million years old. During the study of these rocks, the remains of the scales of the wings of ancient primitive butterflies were found in them. This species existed on Earth for a short period of time. During the period of drought, at the end of the Triassic period, their numbers decreased sharply due to insufficient moisture.
Scientists do not exclude that it was during this period that the proboscis formed in the ancient ancestors of butterflies, which made it possible to collect small drops of dew. Subsequently, individuals of this species of butterflies evolved, acquired an appearance similar to modern species and learned to use the proboscis to extract the main food source & # 8212; nectar.
Appearance and Features
Dawn is not large. She has four wings. The wingspan is small – equal to 48 – 50 mm. The size of the front wing is 23-25 mm. The body length of one individual is about 1.7-1.9 cm. The oral apparatus is represented by a proboscis. The small head has two antennae at the top. The antennae are gray, at the end of each of them are silver beads.
This insect species exhibits sexual dimorphism. Males have yellowish-gray hairs on the head and chest. In females, these hairs are dark gray in color. Also, female and male individuals are easy to distinguish by the color of the wings, in particular their upper part. In males, it is white-orange in color, in females – white. The wingtips are black in females and white in males. The inner side of the wings of the dawn, regardless of gender, has an unusually rich marble-green color.
Such a bright, saturated color shimmers very interestingly during the flight and wingspan. Also, with the help of such bright wings, males attract females during the period of marriage. At the moment when the butterfly folds its wings, it can easily get lost among various types of vegetation and remain invisible.
Interesting fact: The presence of bright orange patches on the wings warn birds of prey that the insect can be poisonous, thereby scaring them away.
The caterpillar that emerges from the cocoon is bluish-green in color with black dots. The head part of the body has a dark green, almost marsh color, there is a light stripe in the back area. The pupae have a smooth, streamlined shape of dark green or brown color with light stripes on the sides.
The body of butterflies is covered with antennae, the color of which also differs in males and females. In males they are gray with a yellowish tinge, in females they are brown. Body size and color may vary slightly depending on the region of habitat. The color is dominated by white.
Where does the dawn butterfly live?
Dawn core is found mainly in the territory of forests, fields, meadows and steppes. They can be found in mountainous areas up to 2000 meters above sea level. They like to settle in thickets near water sources. They do not tolerate regions with a dry climate and try to avoid them. Butterflies can fly to city parks and squares.
This type of insect can be found in various parts of Eurasia. They are found almost throughout Europe, in non-tropical regions of Asia. The habitat area extends from the coast of the Barents Sea from the west to the polar Urals from the east. On the territory of the Kolma Peninsula, butterflies are associated with anthropogenic, meadow biotopes.
Butterflies prefer regions with a subtropical climate, try to avoid desert areas, as well as regions with arid and excessively dry climates. They like to settle on the territory of clearings, open forest edges, meadows with good lighting.
Geographical regions of distribution of insects:
- Far East;
- the southern regions of Spain;
- the whole of Europe.
An interesting fact: There are males that are able to travel a fairly long distance in search of food, or females during the breeding season.
The most common in the spring in Eastern Europe. In the southern regions, it appears from mid-March and flies until the end of June, in the northern regions – from the end of April and flies almost until the end of the summer period.
What does the dawn butterfly eat?
The main source of nutrition is the nectar of flower plants. They get it with the help of a proboscis. Butterflies prefer to collect pollen from various plants depending on the stage of their life cycle.
The following flowering plants are preferred by butterflies:
- dog violet flowers;
- oregano inflorescences;
Caterpillars love to eat:
- juicy green vegetation of young shoots;
- meadow core.
The larvae prefer forage wild cabbage plants:
- garlic cloves;
- shepherd’s purse;
The main part of the diet is made up of forage species of vegetation. In addition to these types of plants, butterflies love to feast on the pollen and nectar of various types of flowering plants. Dawn core is considered an almost omnivorous insect. It should be noted that she consumes a fairly large amount of food, despite her very small size.
They tend to gnaw on almost everything that is considered edible for this type of insect. In order for the insect to be able to go through the full cycle of its development, and the pupa to fully develop, it is necessary to eat intensively. Butterfly treats are pollen, nectar and inflorescences of flowering plant species that contain sugar.
Female individuals live and feed throughout their entire life cycle within the same region. Males tend to travel long distances in search of food if necessary.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
The summer period of the core zorka falls from late March, early April to mid-summer. During this period of time, the insect searches for a mate and breeds offspring. This species of butterflies is predominantly diurnal, at night they rest. Insects prefer places with lots of heat and sunlight. If they get into regions with a damp, cold or too dry climate, most likely they will die before they leave offspring. The full cycle of development from an egg to the maturation of a full-fledged adult insect lasts about a year.
Interesting fact: In the course of research, scientists came to the conclusion that the life cycle of the dawn butterfly can be considered a constant rebirth. A caterpillar emerges from the egg, which turns into a chrysalis, then into an adult, an adult, and again an egg. It is noteworthy that a full-fledged adult lives no more than two weeks!
The main phase of the life cycle is called the caterpillar. Since it is during this period that it should accumulate the maximum amount of nutrients necessary for the full development of all other stages of the life cycle. Butterflies of this species are quite peaceful, it is unusual for them to show aggression towards their relatives, they do not compete with each other. This type of insect is not harmful, and therefore, even in regions where they are quite common, people do not fight them.
Female individuals tend to be located in a certain territory, males are characterized by the ability to migrate, while than, for quite long distances, and even climb mountains up to 2000 meters above sea level.
Social structure and reproduction
The breeding season and egg laying in Aurora occurs once a year. When the time comes for the active summer of the aurora, each individual begins to look for a suitable mate. Males are the most active in this regard. They persistently take the initiative, courting and fluttering around females. Males tend to show bright orange wings, attracting females to choose them for mating.
After mating, the female lays eggs. One female lays one to three eggs. Previously, she chooses a suitable flower for this. This is necessary so that immediately after the appearance of the larva, it can eat plants. During egg laying, a female individual sprays special pheramones on the selected plant, which indicate that this plant is already occupied.
The larva develops over 5-15 days. This period falls from the end of May to the middle of the first month of summer. The larvae, which have turned into caterpillars, begin to actively eat everything that can be eaten: juicy, green foliage, seeds, flowers, ovaries. The caterpillar has a green color with a blue tint and black dots all over the body. A distinctive feature is also a white line in the back. Over the next 5-6 weeks, molting occurs four times.
Caterpillars of the last generation descend down the stem of the plant and pupate with the help of a special thread. At the stage of existence in the form of a chrysalis, the aurora is extremely vulnerable. The resulting pupa has the shape of a green cone. Subsequently, it darkens and acquires an almost brown color. In this form, it practically merges with dry vegetation, resembling a thorn or withered pod. In this form, the aurora waits out the cold winter. If the stem of the plant to which the pupa is attached is damaged or broken, it will certainly die. About 10 months after the formation of the pupa, the adult appears.
Natural enemies of the dawn butterfly
Butterflies naturally have a large number of enemies. They are extremely vulnerable at almost any stage of their development, in addition to the adult butterfly. This is due to the fact that it is problematic for predators to catch a fluttering insect.
The main natural enemies of the dawn butterfly:
- birds. They are the main and most dangerous enemy of the core dawn. At the caterpillar stage, they are a special delicacy and the main source of nutrition for birds. Zoologists have calculated that it is various species of birds that destroy 25% of butterflies at the stage of eggs or larvae;
- spiders. They pose a serious threat to insects. At the same time, spiders that catch insects through the web are less dangerous than predator spiders;
An important role in the status of the species and the number of individuals of the aurora is played by humans. Despite the fact that purposefully a person does not take any measures to combat insects, he violates their natural habitat. Changes in the ecological situation, environmental pollution also have a negative impact on the number of insects.
Population and species status
To date, ornithologists continue to actively study the features of the life of the aurora butterfly. Some moments have remained until now an unsolved mystery. In this regard, it is not possible to establish the exact number of these insects. Aurora is considered an endangered species only in some regions of Russia and most of the territory of Ukraine. Dawn core is listed in the Red Book of Ukraine and the Moscow region of the Russian Federation.
This situation is associated with environmental pollution and human development of an increasing part of the territory, thereby causing the death and extermination of insects. The situation is complicated by the fact that the life cycle of a butterfly lasts about a year, and during this period the insect breeds a few offspring only once. Considering that the butterfly is very vulnerable at almost every stage of its life cycle, a significant part of insects is destroyed by natural enemies before turning into an adult, sexually mature individual.
In addition to all of the above factors, fungi, pathogenic bacteria and viruses influence the population size. All these factors together lead to a decrease in the number of the Dawn Butterfly.
Protection of the Dawn Butterfly
The Dawn Butterfly is listed in the Red Book of several countries, including some regions of Russia Federation. To date, there are no special programs aimed at preserving and increasing the population of the species.
In those regions where the number of aurora is the lowest, it is forbidden to burn grass and dry vegetation, since pupae that are attached to dry stems die in huge numbers. Also on the territory of Russia and Ukraine, as well as in a number of other countries with a climate favorable for the core dawn, it is found on the territory of nature reserves and protected areas.
On the territory of those meadows, fields and steppes, mosaic mowing of vegetation is recommended. On the territory of agricultural land, meadows and fields, it is recommended to limit the amount of chemical insecticides used, which lead to the death of a large number of insects. Ornithologists also recommend sowing grasses and flowering species of vegetation on areas free from agricultural land.
It is these uncomplicated activities that will help preserve the steadily declining number of meadow beauty. The aurora butterfly is an integral part of the flora and fauna. No wonder in ancient times it was considered the embodiment of purity, light and goodness. Today, this rare, unusually beautiful butterfly may completely disappear in many countries and regions. The task of man is to prevent this phenomenon.