Lemongrass butterfly one of the first begins to flutter in the spring, and often suffers from this, dying when the thaw is replaced by a new cooling - after it you can see bright yellow butterflies in the snow. They are found not only in spring, but also in summer and autumn. They stand out in bright colors, and also as if wings were slightly cut off from both edges.
Origin of view and description
Photo: Butterfly lemongrass
Schisandra belongs to the family of whites (Pieridae). It also includes pests such as cabbage and female repens, but lemongrasses themselves are not considered pests, since their caterpillars feed mainly on buckthorn. Therefore, they bear another name - buckthorn. The whites belong to the order Lepidoptera. According to the findings of paleoanthologists, the first representatives of the detachment inhabited the planet at the beginning of the Jurassic period - the age of the oldest found remains is approximately 190 million years.
By the Cretaceous period, when flowering plants spread more and more on the planet, lepidoptera reached their peak. They acquired a well-developed oral apparatus, their wings also developed stronger. Then there was the formation of a long proboscis, designed to suck out nectar. Lepidoptera species became more and more large, larger ones appeared, the length of their life in the form of adults increased - they reached a real flowering. Although in our time the diversity of this order is also striking, it consists of many dissimilar species.
Interesting fact: Butterflies change four forms during their lifetime: first an egg, then a larva, a chrysalis and, finally, an adult butterfly with wings. All these forms are strikingly different from each other, and the imago is the name of the latter.
Lepidoptera rapidly evolved along with flowering plants. By the Paleogene, most of the modern families, including whites, had finally formed. The appearance of modern lemongrass dates back to the same time. Gradually, their new species continued to appear, and this process is still not finished.
In the genus lemongrass, they include from 10 to 14 species - researchers have not yet come to a consensus about the exact classification of some. The difference between species is mainly expressed in size and color intensity. Further, in all cases where the opposite is not indicated, we will talk about the magnolia vine ordinary described by Carl Linnaeus in the fundamental work "System of Nature", which appeared in 1758.
We can distinguish several more famous and common types:
- Cleopatra, living in the Mediterranean;
- aminta, the largest - its wingspan reaches 80 mm, is found in Southeast Asia;
- aspasia - Far Eastern butterflies, on the contrary, small (30 mm) and very brightly colored.
Appearance and features
Photo: Yellow lemongrass butterfly
In the form of an imago, it has elongated front wings and rounded hind wings - both have a pointed end. The hind wings are slightly longer and can reach 35 mm. The color allows lemongrasses to disguise themselves well: if they fold their wings while sitting on a tree or shrub, it is difficult for predators to notice them from afar.
Females and males differ primarily in the color of their wings: in males they are bright yellow, which is why the name of these butterflies came to be, and in females they are white with a green tint. In the middle of the wings there is a small orange spot.
They have faceted eyes and a round head, as well as a very long proboscis, with which they can extract nectar even from very complex flowers. Walking legs three pairs, with their help lemongrass move on the surface of the plant. Wings four pairs.
The sizes vary greatly depending on the species, usually the wingspan is about 55 mm. In representatives of the largest species, it can reach 80 mm, and in small lemongrasses only 30 mm. Caterpillars do not externally stand out: green in tone of foliage, they are covered with small black dots.
Interesting fact: If it’s not very hot, then, as soon as the sun hides behind the clouds, as a lemongrass tends to land on the nearest flower or tree, it is very difficult for it to fly without direct sunlight, since a high temperature must be maintained for the flight.
Where does butterfly lemongrass live?
The habitat is very wide, it includes:
- most of Europe;
- Near East;
- Far East;
- North Africa;
- Southeast Asia;
- Canary Islands;
- Madeira island.
These butterflies are not in the deserts, steppes of the Ciscaucasia, beyond the Arctic Circle, they are also absent on the island of Crete. In Russia, they are very widespread, you can meet them from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Able to live in harsh environmental conditions, almost to the polar circle.
First of all, their range is determined by the distribution of buckthorn as the main food source for caterpillars, although they are able to eat other plants. If ordinary lemongrass is widespread, then other species can live in a very limited area, there are several endemic species that live in the Canary Islands and Madeira.
It is curious that these butterflies do not live in the fields, preferring overgrown bushes, various gardens, parks, edges and woodlands - the main areas where they can be found, since lemongrasses also do not settle in the dense forest. They live in the mountains, but not too high - above 2,500 meters above sea level they are no longer there. If necessary, they can fly over long distances in order to find the most convenient terrain for living.
Now you know where the yellow, bright butterfly lives. Let's now see what butterfly lemongrass eats?
What does butterfly schizandra eat?
Photo: Butterfly lemongrass in spring
In the form of imago - nectar.
Among the plants whose nectar attracts lemongrass:
Wild flowers prevail among preferences, although nectar of garden lemongrasses is also drunk. Thanks to their long proboscis, they can feed on nectar, inaccessible to almost all other butterflies, for example, of the same primrose. For many spring plants, it is vital that they are pollinated by lemongrass, because there are almost no other butterflies at this time. The larva feeds on buckthorn, like a buckthorn laxative, zoster and others.
They eat the sheet from the middle to the edge in a few days, quickly growing, and by the time they are selected on the outside of the sheet, the molt is already ending. They do not do much harm to buckthorn, but are almost harmless for cultivated plants, with few exceptions: caterpillars can feed on foliage of plants such as cabbage, rutabaga, turnip, horseradish, radish or turnip. But cases when they harm plantings are very rare, since lemongrass eggs are usually laid in thickets and forest edges.
Interesting fact: Chooses which flower to sit on lemongrass not by the smell emitted by them, but by color. Most of these butterflies are attracted by blue and red flowers.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Butterfly lemongrass
They are active during the day and fly only when it is sunny. They like warm weather very much, and in the spring, if it's cool, they often freeze for a long time, folding their wings at a right angle and trying to catch as many sunrays as possible - first they substitute one side and then the other. As soon as evening comes and it becomes not so light, they begin to look for a convenient place to spend the night - usually thickets of bushes serve for this. They sit on a branch deep in the undergrowth and, having folded their wings, become almost indistinguishable from the surrounding greenery.
Unlike most other butterflies that spend not so much time in flight because of the high energy costs for it, lemongrasses are very hardy and can fly most of the day, covering long distances. At the same time they are able to climb to great heights. Since they live by the standards of butterflies for a long time, they need to save vitality - therefore, if conditions become less favorable, for example, rainy weather sets in and colder, then even in the middle of summer they may begin diapause. When it becomes warm again, lemongrasses wake up.
An interesting fact: Diapause is a period when the metabolism of a butterfly becomes much slower, it stops moving and becomes much more resistant to external influences.
Lemongrasses appear one of the first - in warm regions since March. But this is the butterflies that live the second year, they lay eggs in the spring, and then die. Young individuals appear at the beginning of summer, and in the middle of autumn they go to winter to “thaw” in the spring. That is, the lifespan of lemongrasses in the form of adults is about nine months - for day butterflies this is quite a lot, but in Europe they do keep a record for longevity.
For winter hiding deeper in the undergrowth. They are not afraid of frosts: the increased retention of glycerol and polypeptides allows you to stay alive in hibernation even at an air temperature of -40 ° C, especially since in a shelter, especially if it is under snow, it is usually much warmer. On the contrary, thaws are dangerous for them: if they wake up, they spend a lot of energy on flights, and since there are no flowers yet, they cannot resume its supply. With a sharp cooling, they simply do not have time to find a new shelter and fall into hibernation again - and die.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Butterfly buckthorn
They live alone, and only in the mating season they fly in pairs. It falls in the spring, and the initiative belongs to males performing a simple mating ritual: when they meet a suitable female, then they fly for a short distance after it. Then the male and female descend on the bush and mate.
After that, the female searches for a place near the buckthorn shoots so that the larvae have enough food, and lays eggs, one or two on each leaf, up to a hundred. They are kept with a sticky secret. A week or two eggs mature, and by the beginning of summer a larva appears. After the appearance, it begins to absorb the leaf - in the form of a caterpillar, the lemongrass is very voracious and eats almost all the time, growing from 1.5 to 35 mm. The time it takes to grow depends on the weather - the warmer and drier it is, the faster the caterpillar will reach the desired size and will pass all the molts. It usually takes 3-5 weeks.
Then she pupates. The length of stay in the form of a pupa depends on the climate and is 10-20 days - the warmer, the faster the butterfly will appear. Having got out of the cocoon, she spends a little time just hovering to spread her wings and let them grow stronger, and then she can fly freely - the individual immediately appears adult and fully adapted to life. In total, all stages of development take from 40 to 60 days, and the adult butterfly lives another 270 days, although it spends a significant part of this time in hibernation.
Natural enemies of lemongrass butterflies
Photo: Butterfly lemongrass
There are many of them: the danger threatens lemongrass at any stage of development, because there are lovers to feast on them in any form. Adult butterflies are easiest, since predators still need to catch them; there are no such problems with other forms.
Among the enemies of lemongrass:
- many other insects.
There are more than enough predators feeding on butterflies, but their most terrible enemies are birds. They most often eat caterpillars, because this is nutritious prey that does not need to be hunted. In total, about a quarter of the caterpillars are destroyed by birds on average. Some birds also attack adults - most often they lie in wait when they rest or drink nectar.
For them, the easiest way is to hit the victim with his beak when she sat down and kill, then separate the wings from her and eat the torso. Although some are adroit enough to grab butterflies on the fly, for example, swallows do just that. But for adults, birds and predators in general are not so dangerous - they can fly away, and a protective color also helps, because of which they are difficult to notice when they are resting. Much harder to the caterpillars: they are hunted by a much larger number of predators, including small ones that are too tough for adult butterflies - and they are not able to fly away or run away. In addition, although the caterpillars also have a protective color, but they are given out by eaten leaves.
Caterpillars are loved by ants, killing them with the coordinated actions of large groups and then dragging them to their anthills. Parasitic wasps can lay eggs right on live caterpillars. The larvae emerging from them then gobble up the caterpillar for a long time directly alive. Sometimes she dies because of this, not having time to become a chrysalis, but even when she manages to live up to this, parasites then get out of the chrysalis, and not a butterfly at all. In addition, butterflies are also susceptible to bacteria, viruses and fungi; small mites can parasitize them.
Population and species status
Photo: Butterfly lemongrass in spring
Although the caterpillars are quite picky about food, the plants they prefer are widespread, so nothing threatens lemongrass. Of course, human activity could not but affect them - the area occupied by shrubs of buckthorn shrubs has noticeably decreased in the last century, moreover, pesticides are actively used - but reducing the number of butterflies is not yet critical.
There are still a lot of limonaria, but this applies to the entire planet, and in its individual areas a strong decline in the population of these butterflies is still observed. So, in the Netherlands, the question was raised of recognizing them as an endangered species at the local level and the corresponding protection. But the family as a whole is not assigned the status of a protected one - a wide range allows you not to worry about its survival. There are many lemongrass in Russia, they can be found in most parts of the country. Although individual species have a much narrower range and smaller population, sooner or later they may be at risk of extinction.
This applies primarily to two species - endemic to the Canary Islands, Gonepteryx cleobule and palmae. The latter inhabit exclusively the island of Palma. Another species, Gonepteryx maderensis, an endemic to the island of Madeira, is protected as the population of these butterflies has declined dramatically in recent decades. In addition, in the corners of our planet remote from civilization, species of lemongrass, not yet described due to their rarity, can also inhabit.
Lemongrasses are harmless butterflies, one of the first to fly in the spring and play a big role in pollination of spring flowers. They are not as widespread as hives, but they are also common, and live in most of the territory of Russia. Bright yellow lemongrass butterfly - one of the decorations of the warm season.