Presentation on theme: "It has been the Maryland state insect since 1973. Its scientific name is Euphydryas phaeton. It has been declining since the 90’s in the Mid Atlantic."— Presentation transcript:
It has been the Maryland state insect since 1973. Its scientific name is Euphydryas phaeton. It has been declining since the 90’s in the Mid Atlantic and Maryland. It used to be in 15 counties in Maryland, now it’s only in five. It’s on Maryland’s “Watch list” even though it’s not officially endangered. Its habitat is a wet meadow. It needs to have white turtlehead, a required larval food. It needs to have sun and be open, with maybe grazing animals or occasional mowing. Its eggs are laid in groups of at least 100 to at most 700 eggs under host plant (white turtlehead) leaves. Males perch low to the ground to attract females. When the caterpillars are newly hatched they feed on the tip of the milkweed and are at risk from falling off and parasitism by wasps that are a biotic part of their habitat. They have one brood per year. These butterflies fly in from June to mid July. The checkerspot butterfly has mostly black wings with white and gold details. Its wingspan is 1 3/4 - 2 3/4 inches (4.5 - 7 cm). Some behavioral adaptations are that it started to eat other plants than just white turtlehead and it learned to live in meadows as apposed to just wetlands. Some structural adaptations are the big spots on their wings that look like eyes that scare away predators and their bright colors that make them look poisonous. (They are poisonous to birds.) The adults eat nectar from milkweed, viburnum, and wild rose. The butterflies mate in February to May.
The adult butterflies emerge in spring. The male checkerspot typically emerges four to eight days before the female. The males have one goal, and that goal is reproduction. They find and mate with a female immediately. The male mates many times while most females mate once during the flight season. The adults also look for nectar. Female lay several hundred eggs on the base of varied plants. This happens in the spring, mostly April and March. They take about ten days to hatch. Once hatched, they climb on the turtlehead and spin a web around the leaves. They eat together. Turtlehead is the only plant that the larvae eat. They shed their skin a number of times and then hide under rocks or soil in a diapause, which is a delay in development. After this ends, they can resume eating and developing into full grown butterflies.
Declining reasons Crop agriculture taken the place of their habitats Changing habitats due to global warming Over-consumtion of the white turtlehead by the growing population of white tailed deer. Insecticide on plants Insecticide put out to kill Gypsy moths, but had a bad effect on the Butterflies Herbicide
Worst Case Scenario The worst case scenario would be if the chance parasitism of the larvae by the wasps grew, and if their much relied on host plant was gone because of over-consumption. Also, if people continue to use toxic pesticides and herbicides. If somehow, the butterflies are not able to adapt to the climate change they will die off. This is why we need to start helping the butterflies right away.
FOOD WEB predator- cottontail rabbit. Second level consumer Predator- white tailed deer. Second level consumer Predator- oriole. Second level consumer Prey-white turtlehead. Producer Prey- milkweed. Producer Checkerspot Butterfly. First level consumer.
Habitat = Brookside Gardens Nature Center Brookside Gardens is Montgomery County’s 50-acre public display garden with distinct habitat areas including ones to support Checkerspot butterflies. They have deer exclusion gates in place. In contrast, the places where the butterflies are struggling, there are changes that need to be made, such as how people use herbicides, pesticides and don’t have fences to keep deer away. Brookside Gardens would be an ideal location to reintroduce the Checkerspot Buttterfly. Checkerspots need a protected home with a fence so the deer don’t come and eat all their food. Toxic herbicides and pesticides will not be used here and those are a big, big part of why the Checkerspot’s number is declining. These butterflies do have predators and competition so there is not a risk of overpopulation. The reintroduction of the butterfly will not damage the habitat because they eat a limited number of types of food, and they have a healthy balance of competition for their food. The checkerspot’s biotic factors needed for survival in the habitat are grass, white turtlehead, milkweed, predators, wasps and other Checkerspot butterflies. The abiotic factors needed are a fence, sunlight, water, soil and oxygen.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT The environmental impact of reintroduction of the checkerspot butterfly is simple. Overproduction will not be a problem because there is predators that eat the butterfly. There will be competition for the Checkerspot’s main food source, the white turtlehead. That will be maintained because there will be fences to keep away the deer, and because of the large spots on the wings of the butterflies that have been adapted over time. These resemble eyes and scare away some predators. The habitats change due to people and global warming, and it is not easy for the butterflies to get used to the changing habitats, but like all organisms, they will adapt to the changing habitats and environment over time. And if we use Brookside Gardens as the location to reintroduce them, it will lead to more protection and support of the Checkerspots because it is an education garden which teaches visitors how to make the habitat at their homes.
How will this plan help the butterflies? This plan is going to help the butterflies by giving them a protected space with all their needs fulfilled. There is a balance between predators and prey, and a balance between abiotic and biotic factors in the habitat. There is a much needed fence to keep away the deer that eat most of the white turtlehead. Having them away will help the butterflies thrive a lot more because the deer is a big reason why their population is decreasing. This plan will give the butterflies time to reproduce and go back to the numbers that they used to be. And if we use Brookside Gardens as the location to reintroduce them, it will lead to more protection and support of the Checkerspots because it is an education garden which teaches visitors how to make the habitat at their homes.