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SOME IMPORTANT PHENOMENA

Butterfly basking: It's bathing of butterflies under sun rays. It requires large amount of energy for flying and is possible only if the flight muscles gets warmed at a temperature of at least 30°C (Feltwell, 1986)

Butterfly colouration: Butterflies add beauty to their surroundings through their coloured and patterned wings. These colours are either pigmentary colours or structural colours or by combination of these two (combination colours). These butterfly colours have some survival value or adaptive significance. Bright colouration is associated with courtship display and the colours present in the underlying epidermal tissue are for protective purpose through camouflage.

Butterfly courtship: The courtship mechanism in butterfly differs from one species to another. It involves a variety of behavioural, physiological and biochemical mechanisms. Visual stimuli in the form of colour, shape, size, olfactory stimuli in the form of odour etc. are some of the fascinating courtship events. The event normally lasts a little more than an hour and once they separate the female fly away in search of food plants to lay her eggs.

Butterfly and flower association: A mutual association between butterflies and flower is often noticed in the nature. Sometimes adult butterflies feed on nectar or pollen or both. With the help of their proboscis, they suck liquid food i.e. nectar from the corolla tube of flowers and in the process solid pollen grains stick to it. After feeding, whenever it flies to other flower of same plant species the pollens get transferred and thus flowers are pollinated. Flowers pollinated by butterflies are often regular, tubular and sweet-smelling.

Butterfly migration: Like birds butterflies also migrate. But the reasons for the migration are not yet fully understood. The availability of larval host plants, climatic adversities, escape from enemies etc., might be the reasons for which some of the butterfly migrates from one area to another. But it is still a mystery how butterflies decide in which direction they should fly. About 250 species in the world and 60 in India are reported to be migratory in nature. In India species like Lime butterfly, Common Emigrant, Mottled Emigrant, Common Albatross, Common Crow, Blue Tiger, Striped Tiger, Great Eggfly, Painted Lady, Pea Blue are reported to be as regular migrants.

Butterfly mimicry: These are protective mechanism of butterflies to protect themselves from the predators. Out of several kinds of mimicry, some are commonly found : Camouflage of a butterfly like a dry leaf (e.g. Oak blue, Leaf Blue), hair like tails which look like antennae (e.g. Silverline), unpalatable to predators (e.g. Common Rose), palatable butterflies mimic the unpalatable ones (e.g. Female of palatable Danaid Eggfly mimics the unpalatable Plain Tiger), larval association with ant (the Lycaenid larvae produce sweet chemicals which attract ants and thus gets surrounded by ants e.g. Pea blue) etc.

Butterfly puddling: This is a phenomenon of adult butterflies drinking fluid containing sodium and other nutrients in and around a wet patch. These adsorbed nutrients also help in producing Pheromone, a chemical released by the male to attract female for reproduction.

Butterfly variation: Research findings indicate the following categories of variations among the butterflies:

  1. Sexual dimorphism - sexual difference within the species, the males look different from females
  2. Seasonal dimorphism - distinct seasonal variation within the species, wet season form and dry season form
  3. Polymorphism - when butterflies have more than two forms
  4. Individual variation - When individuals of a species have more than two colour patterns