butterfly magic

YEP. How is this possible?

From Oregon Metro today, Zoo releases 850 endangered butterflies into wild

Precious excerpts:

Once common along the Oregon coast, the Oregon silverspot was reduced to four Oregon populations by the 1990s. The species was listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1980 – one of two Oregon butterflies listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“They face a lot of obstacles,” Andersen said. “Development, motor vehicles, bad weather, pesticides, invasive species, natural predators like spiders.…”

In addition to releasing pupae, the Oregon Zoo raises and plants thousands of early blue violets, on which the Oregon silverspot depends, into butterfly habitat.

“When the caterpillars hatch, they’re tiny – just about the size of Abe Lincoln’s nose on a penny,” Andersen said. “But they will eat more than 300 nickel-sized violet leaves before they’re ready to pupate.”

Last summer, before the final batch of 2012 pupae were sent to their new beachfront homes, Oregon Zoo photographer Michael Durham captured what is believed to be the first time-lapse video of a silverspot caterpillar transforming into a chrysalis.

“What he captured was nothing short of magical,” Andersen said. “When a caterpillar pupates, all of its molecules literally liquefy, and it reformulates as a butterfly. Sometimes you need to have a meltdown in order to change your life.”

National Insect Week

Well I’ll be; who knew?

The Royal Entomological Society, that’s who.

I am sad they only do even years – the next National Insect Week is in 2010

But they continue to host competitions like Close Encounters:

TV presenter Kate Humble has a ‘close encounter’ with an elephant hawk moth. Photo from http://www.nationalinsectweek.com/close_comp.php
TV presenter Kate Humble has a ‘close encounter’ with an elephant hawk moth. Photo from http://www.nationalinsectweek.com/close_comp.php

…and to offer loads of information on the National Insect Week web site.

There’s some great contextual material on insects as pollution indicators, on insect-friendly gardens, and on participating in insect surveys.

Seriously playful, and clearly in a long line of enthusiastic amateur naturalists. Here are some links –

The  Royal Entomological Society hosts events, conferences, and publishes pamphlets + books like this one:

“A Year in the Lives of British Ladybirds,”

Iconically coloured, friends to farmers and gardeners alike, and named
after The Virgin Mary, Ladybirds are undoubtedly the most popular of all
the beetles…

Written by three hugely experienced ‘ladybirders’, the book provides
instructions of how, when and where to find different species of ladybird,
how to identify the adults, and facilitates involvement in current research
projects on ladybirds. Excitingly, the book sets out ways in which readers
can contribute to national surveys of ladybirds, initiated as a result of the
recent arrival of the invasive alien harlequin ladybird in 2004.