Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Day 191 Gorgeously Green Veined Whites

Saw this lovely one at Lake Gormire.
Hey everyone today is Day 191 and I`ve got a lovely little butterfly for you today. I'm going to go in to a bit of detail about the life cycle of a butterfly as I think it's fascinating. Hope you do too.

So on with the facts:

Latin name Artogeia Napi or Pieris Napi

  • The green veined white is one of the family of Whites and Yellows, and is often mistaken for its cousins the small and the large white and in fact I'd done a whole blog thinking this one was a small white when dad then told me it wasn't it`s a green veined. D`oh!
  • They can be found pretty much all over the place, from urban gardens, parks and allotments to the open countryside but especially like damp woodlands.
  • Their favourite food is nectar and they particularly like it from bluebells, buttercups, ragwort, ragged robin, cabbages and thistle flowers.
  • Males like the nutrients that can be sometimes found on the surface of water or mud - this is known as Mud Puddling!
  • They are creamy white in colour with greyish tips to their wings and maybe one or two grey spots.  The green on their underside is actually an illusion...oooooh!.....It`s actually a combination of yellow and black scales that makes them appear green.
  • Their wingspan is around 40-52mm. 
  • You can tell a male from a female by the wingtips - they male`s grey tips are broken up, whereas the female's tip colouring is more of a wedge shape.  From that I`m guessing that mine in the photo is a male.
  • They are high in numbers and so are not considered threatened.
  • White butterflies are sometimes called Summer Snowflakes which I think is lovely!
  • A female lays each egg singly and out of each white and pointy egg emerges a tiny little bright green velvety cater-piddler! (Roald Dahl reference :-)
So on to the life cycle of a butterfly in general:
  • Butterflies are invertebrates and part of the family called Arthropods which means they have jointed limbs.
  • Their wings are made up of a membrane covered in loosely attached scales.
  • They have four very distinct and different life stages:  egg - caterpillar - chrysalis and butterfly.
  • The life expectancy of a butterfly varies from species to species - some of the smaller species such as the common blue might only live for a few days :( but other larger ones such as the peacock might emerge in August, feed, hibernate over the winter, mate, lay eggs and still be around to tell the tale in June.
  • A female will lay her eggs on or near a suitable plant - they tend to have a favourite species of plant that they like to lay on.  The eggs are tiny, less than 1mm in size, and differ in shape - a blue butterfly lays disc-shaped eggs while the white lays eggs that are tall and pointy!
  • Out of the egg a tiny little caterpillar will emerge who will usually eat the shell of the egg and then some of the leaves around it, which is why you can often find leaves on your prized cabbages and nasturtiums with little holes nibbled out of them!  
  • They have very limited eye-sight but can detect movement and shape.  A caterpillar has three body sections - head, thorax and abdomen.  
  • The tiny caterpillar will continue to eat until it fills its current skin, and develops a bigger skin under the outside one, which splits open and the bigger caterpillar comes out.  When that skin has become hard, it can start to eat again.  A caterpillar needs to go through this process 4-7 times (called ecdysis).  In its final process a pupal skin develops and the caterpillar feeds himself up and then attaches himself to a secure place such as a nice firm plant stem so that he can pupate (change into a chrysalis).
  • The chrysalis period can last for a few weeks or for some species such as the Duke of Burgundy can last for ten months.  Its body goes through a complete change and finally the skin splits and an adult butterfly emerges, but its wings are small and plump, so it goes through one last process where it pumps fluid through the veins in its wings to expand them, then they need to harden, and once this is complete the butterfly is ready to fly away!  We "grew" some butterflies last summer (Day 186 Perfectly Pretty Painted Ladies) and watched this happen before they flew away - it was amazing!
  • The butterfly then needs to feed and find a mate, and the whole process starts again. 
  • Its body is made up to 3 parts too, and the mouth-parts have a long coiled tongue called a proboscis which it uses to suck up nectar and fruit juices.  Its body is covered in little scales which can be completely flat or quite long, which is why some butterflies look hairy.
  • Most butterflies hibernate over the winter but not always as butterflies, sometimes they hibernate in the larvae or egg stage, the caterpillar stage or the chrysalis stage.
Interesting stuff isn't it - so many complicated processes going on that we just take for granted but is amazing. 

Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love that phrase, 'Mud Pudding' - I've never come across that before, really interesting facts as always Zach, and these are beautiful butterflies! - Tasha