TOM PALMER: Drought is hard on butterlfies

TOM PALMER: Drought is hard on butterlfies.
The current drought has affected much more than your lawn-watering day, providing you haven’t already moved on and converted turf to native landscaping.
One count was in the Green Swamp.
Except for one common roadside species called dainty sulfur, common butterfly species were hard to find.
We had a mild winter and there’s no shortage of wildflowers.
The experience was no different in other habitats where I find woodland or swamp species.
Participants in the Green Swamp count found Dukes’ skippers, which is a rare species being surveyed statewide.
It was the first time I’d seen one in flight in years.
The shortage in butterflies and other pollinators will eventually end as it has during previous weather-related setbacks.
The National Wildlife Federation is sponsoring a Bring Home The Bees campaign to certify your garden as pollinator-friendly wildlife habitat.

Research unravels mysteries of mouthparts of butterflies

A study by Matthew Lehnert, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences at Kent State Stark, shows that the method in which flies and butterflies ingest liquids into their own bodies for nourishment may be used as a model for delivering disease-fighting drugs to the human body.
Drug delivery systems are engineered technologies for the targeted delivery and/or controlled release of therapeutic agents.
This study also found that there is a limiting pore size from which each individual can feed — butterflies and flies with smaller mouthpart channels will be able to feed on liquids from smaller pores, which might have an advantage for the insects and more broadly for the ecosystem in case of a drought.
Lehnert, three of his Kent State Stark undergraduate student assistants and four other researchers found that flies, butterflies and moths (20 percent of all animals) use capillary action, or the movement of liquids seamlessly from one place to another, as the guiding principle when feeding on liquid films — their primary source of food.
An insect’s proboscis, a body part that allows them to drink liquids, acts like a highly-sophisticated sponge and straw that uses capillary action to send nectar or other liquids to the insect’s diges tive system.
In order to feed on nectar and other liquid films, natural selection has favored the evolution of specialized mouthparts in fluid-feeding insects.
In butterflies and flies, the mouthparts consist of a proboscis adapted for using capillary action to pull thin films of fluid from surfaces for subsequent feeding.
By copying this natural method, scientists say the mouthparts of flies and butterflies can serve as models for developing new devices for improved drug delivery systems.
Journal Reference: Matthew S. Lehnert, Andrew Bennett, Kristen E. Reiter, Patrick D. Gerard, Qi-Huo Wei, Miranda Byler, Huan Yan, Wah-Keat Lee.
ScienceDaily, 13 April 2017.