Migration of Vanessa Butterflies

Topics: Butterfly, Lepidoptera, Vanessa cardui Pages: 6 (2135 words) Published: March 7, 2013
Migration in Vanessa Butterflies

Vanessa butterflies inhabit numerous continents around the world, which may include Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas (Stefanescu et al., 2007). Vanessa is a genus of brush-footed butterflies of the family Nymphalidae (Stefanescu et al., 2007) They are described as Holarctic species, which refers to habitats throughout the northern continents of the world (Stefanescu, 2001). They are seen mostly in open meadows and fields near streams (Stefanescu, 2001). Their populations are not permanent because to survive they need to be in relatively sunlit places that provide the appropriate host plants for protection and reproduction (Vandenbosch, 2003). They also need the proper plants that provide nectar for their consumption (Vandenbosch, 2003). At all life stages, Vanessa butterflies are incapable of surviving in cold temperatures (Vandenbosch, 2003). Due to this fact, Vanessa butterflies migrate (Stefansecu, 2001). The butterflies migrate in the winter towards the more southern regions and then upon their arrival, begin an intensive breeding period (Stefanescu, 2001). Throughout the winter, the larvae develop (Stefanescu, 2001). In the early spring, the new generation of adult butterflies appear (Stefanescu, 2001). These new adult butterflies migrate back to the northern regions in search of more host plants or better available resources (Stefanescu et al., 2007). In the southern regions, the summers are too dry and hot and the Vanessa butterflies would not survive these harsh conditions (Stefanescu et al., 2007). The migration process continues when winter approaches since the butterflies would lack proper survival resources and must travel back to the southern regions (Stafanescu et al., 2007). The Vanessa butterflies are forced to migrate continuously because in order to survive, they require proper amounts of food, shelter, and reproductive grounds.

Geographically, the various types of Vanessa butterflies migrate to different regions. The Vanessa cardui butterfly travels a long-distance migration (Stefanescu et al., 2007). They arrive in Europe from northern Africa each spring (Stefanescu et al., 2007). This journey is calculated to be several hundred kilometers (Stefanescu et al., 2007). Vanessa cardui butterflies are also present in Mexico, Canada, and the Americas (Vandenbosch, 2003). Some undertake a long-distance migration from northern Mexico in the winter and travel as far as Canada for the summer (Vandenbosch, 2003). Another Vanessa butterfly, the Vanessa atalanta, travels northwards towards central Europe in the summer and southwards to the Mediterranean regions in the winter (Stefanescu et al., 2007). All Vanessa butterflies have the same basic migration patterns regardless of which hemisphere they live in. Basically, Vanessa butterflies travel to southern regions in the winter and migrate back to the northern regions in the summer (Stefanescu, 2001). Spring migration ultimately takes place during April and May while winter migration begins in August and September (Stefanescu et al., 2007). Some travel shorter distances while others may travel longer distances up to several hundred kilometers (Stefanescu, 2001). They all migrate in search of proper resources for their survival in the necessary temperature range.

Using theoretical and applied research, much knowledge has been collected about butterfly migration over many years (Stefanescu et al., 2007). Huge developments in new techniques has accounted for the increase in the knowledge of butterfly migration (Stefanescu et al., 2007). For one, the use of radar has greatly influenced butterfly research and the understanding of the species’ migration patterns (Stefanescu et al., 2007). The radar can detect the butterflies in flight and follow their movement (Stefanescu et al., 2007) From the use of radar, some Vanessa butterflies have been found to migrate within a flight-boundary layer, which is the space within a few...
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