Sunday, July 26, 2015

The many moods of a Fritillary Butterfly

I only have a couple of Fritillary butterflies flitting about the gardens, whereas 15 years ago I felt as if I was in a scene of Fantasia, every day, as there were butterflies and bees galore. (Click on any photo for a larger, more detailed view.)
I took the opportunity to photograph one of the Fritillaries as it was feeding on the Echinacea (which they seem to be greatly attracted to.)
Check out the proboscis (drinking straw-like structure.)
"The proboscis is made up of 2 parts (each is a galea) that zip together after the adult emerges from the pupa. You may have seen this on the monarch. When it emerges, the proboscis consists of 2 strands, but it soon begins to coil and uncoil these and the two parts fuse into 1. Each galea has a groove, that when the 2 are fused, the groove forms the food canal (the central hole in your photo). Inside each galea there is a trachea (the smaller tube in your photo) as well as a nerve and muscles.

Butterflies and moths can only feed on liquids or liquids containing particles small enough to fit through the food canal. Zebra Heliconians are unusual in that they can feed on pollen by gathering a ball of pollen on the tip the proboscis and reguritating digestive juices that break down the pollen enough to ingest it. Other butterflies may also spit and slurp such as the Gulf Fritillary feeding on the dead deer. Butterflies will often squirt water from the rear end onto the sand, mud, or bird droppings, and sip up the minerals. Apparently, the digestive tract removes the minerals while water etc goes through the rear." 
(Marc Minno) And, see Butterfly Fun Facts and Shady Oak Butterfly Farm for lots of cool butterflies and information!