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Costa Rica is a Natural Butterfly Garden!A world of transformations and color
Any butterfly garden will show you the great and diverse world of butterflies. Economically,
butterflies are important by virtue of their role as one of the major
agents of pollination (which enables to harvest the human food), and Costa Rica, with its extraordinary diversity of insects, including the butterflies, is not the exception. As a Lepidoptera, the butterfly is notable for their unusual life cycle
with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a extraordinary
metamorphosis into a familiar and colorful winged adult form.
(En Español: Mariposas de Costa Rica)
Butterflies of Costa Rica
*Because of the very delicate butterfly body and wings structure, please don't try to catch or hold the butterflies.
A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. This means that all butterflies have six legs, but in the family Nymphalidae (which groups the most of the species) the forelegs are modified in such a way that have a reduced size and are almost imperceptible, hence most butterflies appear as having only four legs (which are called the walking legs) (2). Such reduced forelegs play the role of being chemoreceptors organs (for "tasting"). As a Lepidoptera, the butterfly is notable for its unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colorful winged adult form.
In more exact terms, the butterfly life cycle have four stages:
Endowed with a strong mandibled mouth, the butterfly caterpillar can be considered as an legged stomach that feeds, feeds and feeds! ... With the only purpose of grow. But also butterfly larvae feature a wide variety of defenses against predator that feed on them (insects, frogs, birds or monkeys), such that urticant spines or hairs, by having toxins that make it a noxious mouthful or by disguising by means of non eatable or dangerous appearance mimicry. That is the case of the Toas Swallowtail Butterfly (Heraclides thoas) caterpillar, whose bird dropping disguise protection is enhanced by its habit of resting on the upper side of leaves. Also exist the camouflage protection by which the butterfly larvae are blended with their background, and making difficult to be detected.
The protection against predators also exists in the adult butterfly, it can be hiding by camouflage (as the Blue Morpho butterfly does at resting because its brownish lower-side wing coloration blends well with trunk and rock surfaces), or advertising it presence by mimicry, several species (even unrelated) evolve to resemble each other in warning by conspicuous coloration to predators, called aposematic coloration, in order to spare the damage (reducing predator sampling rates) because of the avoidance over the possibly noxious or unpalatable butterfly. Mimicry can occurs in two ways: a true dangerous butterfly group warns, with conspicuous similar wing coloration patterns, about toxins presence in their bodies (which is called Müllerian mimicry), whereas another group only have a close appearance to the noxious one, with no damage capability, that fool predators that avoids the first group by instinct, getting this way the vital protection (this is called Batesian mimicry).
Heliconius Butterfly group from American tropical rain forest is the classical model for Müllerian mimicry, so as an example Heliconius melpomene (solitary and rare, avoids direct sunlight) and Heliconius erato (familiar garden visitor and the commonest Heliconius in Costa Rica, flies in direct sunlight) belongs to the same mimicry group, being a good example of true unpalatable butterflies.
The adult Butterfly consume only liquids and these are sucked by means of its proboscis. It do this for water, for energy from sugars in nectar and for sodium and other minerals which are vital for its reproduction so. Although the butterfly feeds primarily on nectar from flowers (and thus its essential ecological role as pollinators each time a butterfly visit a flower), is important the nourishment obtained sipping water from damp patches as well as from tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or mud (as butterfly Eurytides euryleon clusoculis).
of the main characteristic of the butterfly wings are their minute scale covering, which creates the butterfly color in two different ways:
As an example of structural color, the Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) is colored in metallic, shimmering and iridescent shades of blue. But unlike most butterflies, the Blue Morpho coloration is not a result of pigmentation. They are brown by pigments, but by virtue of their complex crystalline structured scales that absorbs all colors of the spectrum except blue, then appear of that color. Blue Morpho butterfly is a rainforest dweller but will venture into sunny clearings in order to warm itself. Blue Morpho butterflies don't visit flowers, instead they feed on the juices of rotting fruits with which they may also be lured, as well on trees bark sap. The entire life cycle of the Blue Morpho butterfly, from egg to death, is approximately of 115 days.
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