Monday, July 08, 2013

Diana's In The Yard

This is that time of year when the relatively rare Diana Fritillary butterflies get together and make sure there are Diana Fritillaries next year. The males arise in late spring and survive until the girls come out, about now, actually. These shots were taken on opposite sides of the house today. Males on the butterfly bush and female on the monarda. Interesting lives they have, albeit short ones. The males will die soon after mating. The girls will survive until frost. They deposit their eggs near violets but not on them. The babies hatch and don't eat but crawl into safe cracks and crevices in the earth to winter over until spring. Those that survive, a small percentage, find the violets and start eating. Then everything starts all over again. Amazing! And yes, there is a lot of activity for the sharp eyed to observe...

1 comment:

  1. I have to wonder what survival advantage this gives Dianas? Some butterflies only live a few days as adults, but Dianas live for months, only the males get the early part of the warm weather. The females emerge about now and kill off the males by having sex with them and then survive until frost. Every characteristic either gives, gave, or is a by product of something that gives a survival advantage to a species. Most of the time the advantage is apparent with some thought, but temporal sexual dimorphism is a strange one to me. It's like the boys play sports and dodge bullies (and birds) all year until prom time and the girls wake up just in time to put on their dresses, which they will of course take off for some lucky guy. Then the guys all immediately die of old age and the girls party down for the rest of their lives with no guys around.

    Violets are the only food source for the caterpillars, but the males emerge too late to be pollinators for those plants. It's possible that there are symbiotic species that each contribute to the other's survival, but that's speculative of me.