In this pest colony article, we discuss How Long Does A Butterfly Live? Butterflies are insects belonging to the order of Lepidoptera, with common characteristics but with the most disparate aspects. As hexapods they have six legs, a body divided into three parts (head, thorax, abdomen), and can have wings: the latter characteristic varies considerably from species to species, based on sex and life stage.
Life Cycle Of The Butterfly
Before finding out when a butterfly lives, let’s describe its life cycle, a topic we have already talked about in a previous article. The reproduction of the butterfly (for which holometabolous insects are defined ) begins with the deposition of the egg, from which a very active larva (caterpillar) will develop whose sole purpose will be to feed on its own nourishing plants, growing quickly.
During the larval stage, the insect is affected by the molting process: feeding voraciously, the body tends to grow rapidly, but the rigidity of the exoskeleton prevents the larva from enlarging, which will have to replace it over time with a larger one. Completed development begins the inactive phase in which the caterpillar “pupates” passes from the stage of larva to that of the chrysalis (pupa) which may or may not be enclosed by a silk cocoon, built by the larva itself.
How Long Does A Butterfly Live On Average
To answer the question “how long does a butterfly live?” we could first estimate when a butterfly lives on average. We have just seen how the life cycle of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) is characterized by the process of complete metamorphosis and this totally influences their life span: normally it goes from a couple of weeks to about a month, but in some species, the entire life cycle takes place in one year.
The duration is characteristic of each species: all tend to take advantage of the most favorable months of the year to carry out the most active phases of metamorphosis (larval growth, flight, dispersal, and mating) leaving the inactive ones (egg and pupa) at the times of the year. less favorable. The diapause period allows these insects, heterothermic animals unable to maintain a constant body temperature, to survive adverse weather conditions by reducing their metabolic activity, remaining inactive, and not eating until the adverse period ends.
How Long Does A Monarch Butterfly Live
Danaus plexippus plexippus is a subspecies of “monarch butterflies” known throughout the world for its great migratory capacity during the reproductive period. Starting in winter from Mexico and California, these moths embark on a long flight of more than 4000 km to reach the summer breeding grounds of Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, this splendid butterfly belonging to the Nymphalidae family has recently entered the IUCN red list because it is threatened with extinction due to the destruction of its habitat and climate change. Illegal deforestation and logging have razed vast winter areas of butterflies in Mexico and California, while herbicides and pesticides kill the same butterflies and host plants (milkweed) as larvae in the United States and Canada.
In addition, the increasing drying up of the climate due to climate change limits the growth of host plants and increases the frequency of fires, triggering early migrations before the plants themselves are available for larvae. Bad weather is also responsible for the decline of this butterfly, with western populations at greater risk of extinction and a population that went from over 10 million to 1941 specimens between the 1980s and 2021. an 84% reduction between 1996 and 2014.
These Lepidoptera with a lively orange color of the wings, black ribs, and two series of white spots along the wing margin, are not subject to winter diapause, preferring to make this long journey in which several generations live for periods of different duration (in fact, four generations are necessary to make the entire journey): the first three generations survive up to a couple of months and make the journey from South to North, but the fourth can make it up to 7/8 months having to return to the South and traveling from August to October.
How Long Do Other Butterflies Live
With this premise, it becomes really difficult to answer exactly the question “how long does a butterfly live” and assign a timing to each species of moth because of the environmental conditions, the availability of food, the availability of the areas, and the number of annual generations, greatly influence the duration of their life cycle.
But one thing is certain: if we want to have some chance to see them we must choose the warm days of the summer, arm ourselves with a good recognition guide, and raise our eyes to the sky … or lower them to look for the caterpillars, with the most disparate aspects, on the plants.
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