MASTER GARDENER QUIZ BOWL COMPETITION
The Butterfly-themed Master Gardener Quiz Bowl Competition is scheduled for 3:30 – 4:15 at the butterfly festival on September 17, 2016 with Robin Bridges, County Agent in Union County, Arkansas, as emcee. There will be a panel of three judges to decide if an answer is acceptable and to keep score. These judges will not be master gardeners nor will they be associated with any extension service, but will be knowledgeable about butterflies and butterfly gardening. Each team will consist ideally of four members who can confer among themselves before giving an answer to a question; however, a team can compete with fewer members but would have a lesser advantage in conference.
Choose a catchy name for your team and submit it with the names and contact information for your team members to me. There is no fee for entering. The winning team will receive $300, second place $200 and third $100.
1937 Bailey Avenue, Haynesville, LA 71038
SOME FACTS ABOUT BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies are in the animal kingdom, insect class and order of lepidoptera. There are close to 20,000 species of butterflies in the world with 717 found in the United States and Canada. Among the states, Texas has the most species with 423 with Arizona second having 326. Louisiana has 117 resident species and Arkansas has 127.
The wingspan of a butterfly is the measurement used to express its size. Louisiana & Arkansas species range from slightly under an inch for some of those in the family of little blues to 5 1/2” for the giant swallowtail. The largest butterfly in the world is the giant birdwing of Australia and Northeast Asia with a wingspan up to 11”. The female of a species is generally larger than the male as she may carry 500 to 1,000 eggs in her body – even up to 2,000 for the Great Spangled Fritillary.
Metamorphosis is the name for the change in form or physical structure of butterflies. There are four stages in the life of a butterfly: egg, larva or caterpillar, pupa or chrysalis, and the adult butterfly. Below is the average lifespan of each stage (varying by species and weather conditions):
Egg 3-10 days
Caterpillar 3-4 weeks
Chrysalis 1-2 weeks
Butterfly 2-3 weeks
Depending on the species , butterflies may overwinter in any of the four stages. A stage may last 6-7 months in the case of overwintering.
Host plants are those on which the butterflies lay their eggs and on which the caterpillars feed. Some species will use a wide variety of plants even in different families while others are very selective and will accept those of only one genus. Over 30 of our Louisiana and Arkansas species use trees for host plants. Our only carnivorous butterfly caterpillar is the harvester which feeds exclusively on wooly aphids.
Butterfly larvae are caterpillars, not worms; true worms do not have legs as do caterpillars. Caterpillars grow rapidly and molt 4-5 times during this stage when their skin cannot stretch any more to accommodate their enlarging bodies. The period between each molt is called an instar. No caterpillar of a North American butterfly will sting but we do have six species of moth caterpillars in Louisiana and Arkansas which will sting.
Nectar plants are those offering food for the adult butterfly, although they do feed on things other than pollen and nectar. Some favor such things as rotting fruit, carrion, manure, urine and perspiration. When you see a gathering of butterflies on the ground in damp areas, they are usually predominately males engaging in “puddling.” They take up moisture, extract the minerals and then excrete the water. The minerals are needed in reproduction and are transferred to the female in mating.
Butterflies do not change in size; they emerge from the chrysalis fully grown. When they emerge, they hang upside down for a lengthy time until their wings dry and they’ve pumped fluid into them in order to be able to fly.
Butterflies are cold-blooded and cannot fly well until their bodies warm up; that’s why you often see them basking in the sun, folding and unfolding their wings — revving up their engines to get air-borne. They even visible shiver to raise their body temperature. Monarchs can fly with a body temperature of 55 degrees while a black swallowtail requires a 90 degree body temperature.
Butterflies are essentially mute and deaf but have excellent senses of taste, sight and smell. Taste organs are in the feet; smell organs in the antennae. Females use their sense of smell to locate host plants on which to lay their eggs while males use this sense to find a mate. I have read that the males of certain moth species can smell the pheromones (chemicals which attract mates) of females up to seven miles away!
Butterflies are chiefly diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.
The state butterfly of Arkansas, the Diana fritillary, is perhaps the best example of sexual dimorphism (difference in size, color or such between male and female) in the insect world. In this species the female is blue and black, while the male is orange and brown.
Butterflies do not spin cocoons as do most moths; when they shed their skin in the last instar of the caterpillar stage, the chrysalis covering is revealed. Then the caterpillars insides simply “go to mush” and reform as a butterfly.
Monarch butterflies are a tropical species which cannot survive our winters in Arkansas and Louisiana so they migrate to Mexico, while some in the west go to extreme southern California. The ones that overwinter in Mexico go to a small area of fir trees high in the mountains about 100 miles west of Mexico City. The butterflies that go to Mexico in September to October of each year are several generations removed from their ancestors who migrated north to the United States and Canada the previous March. Yet they instictively know to return to the same trees their ancestors left. It was not known where these wintering grounds were until sometime in the mid 1970s.
Monarchs have set several records for the Guinness Book of World Records. They have been seen flying 7,000 feet up, clocked at speeds of over 50 milles an hour, and have flown a known distance of 2,133 miles between Ontario, Canada and Central Mexico. The same tagged butterfly appeared at both places but very likely had flown a much greater distance than 2,133 miles as butterflies do not fly in a straight line.
As host plants, Monarchs use milkweeds which contain toxins which are harmful to birds so they learn to leave this species alone. The toxins are taken up by the caterpillars, then transferred to the body of the adult butterfly. The viceroy, which resembles the monarch, also has protection through its mimicry. In addition to birds, some other predators of butterflies are ants, certain flies, some wasp species, anoles, and praying mantises. Fortunately, a butterfly can still fly with over half of its wing expanse missing. Man is the worst enemy of butterflies with his use of pesticides and destruction of habitat.
SOME OF OUR MOST COMMON BUTTERFLIES AND THEIR HOST PLANTS
(host plants listed for a species in many cases not all-inclusive)
SULPHURS (all use legumes: clover, partridge pea, senna, cassia, etc.)
eastern black parsley, dill, fennel, Queen Anne’s lace
giant prickly ash, hop wafer, rue, any citrus spp.
pipevine Dutchman’s pipe, other Aristolochia spp.
spicebush spicebush, sassafras
tiger tulip poplar, willow, black cherry, ash
zebra pawpaw spp. (no other plants)
BLUES, HAIRSTREAKS, & ELFINS
spring azure dogwood, black cherry
banded hairstreak hickory, oak, walnut
gray hairstreak oak, plus nearly 50 plants in over 20 families!
great purple hairstreak mistletoe ( no other host plant)
juniper hairstreak juniper spp.
red-banded hairstreak sumac, wax myrtle
striped hairstreak hawthorn spp.
eastern pine elfin pine spp.
Henry’s elfin redbud
long-tailed (bean-leaf roller) beans, peas, other legumes
silver-spotted locust trees, clover, wisteria, other legumes
MISC. BUTTERFLY SPECIES
American lady pussytoes, everlasting, artemisia
American snout hackberry
Eastern comma hops, elm, false nettle
gulf fritillary passion vine
hackberry emperor hackberry
harvester (our only carnivore) woolly aphids , usually on alder or beech
mourning cloak willow, hackberry, elm, cottonwood, birch
painted lady thistle, hollyhock, other mallows
question mark elm, hackberry, hops, false nettle
red admiral nettles, false nettles, hops
red-spotted purple willow, cherry, poplar, oak
tawny emperor hackberry
variegated fritillary passion flower, violets
viceroy willow, poplar, aspen, cherry, apple
SOME FAVORED NECTAR PLANTS FOR BUTTERFLIES
Lantana, buddleia, zinnia, verbena, coneflowers, cosmos, salvia species, milkweed, coreopsis, phlox, liatris (blazing star), pentas