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Lepidoptera

The spectacle of nature

Nature is capable of offering an extraordinary spectacle in every situation, more than we human beings try to do and above all we are able to do; already being able to understand that everything that surrounds us, including ourselves, is the result of the wonders and power that nature possesses is already a great thing. Going deeper into the question we see that nature is spectacular even in small things: the wonder of the silkworm, the birth of baby turtles, the formation of ice and snow, are all enchanting phenomena which, however, also hide amazing scientific processes, incredible transformations. and also extraordinary coincidences such as the turtle’s return to lay its eggs in the exact place where it was born, even if it has to cross miles and miles of sea to get there. Obviously this is speaking only of the animal world, because it is clear that even in the landscapes nature is phenomenal: the waterfalls, the alpine valleys, the Caribbean sea or the wonderful Italian islands. Behind all this there is an evolutionary process governed by its own laws, which started from a mass of cosmic debris to form the earth and from a primordial organism for animals, plants, etc., and this is perhaps what most impresses and amazes us.

Lepidoptera


For many people this scientific name will say nothing as soon as you read or listen to it, but in reality we all know what it is because we have certainly seen them at least once; the name derives from the Greek and means “scales on the wings”, and in fact admiring under the microscope it is exactly like this while at life size they seem to us only velvety wings, but what are we talking about? Butterflies and moths! These insects are not distinct groups of the same species, but they are exactly the same species and these two different names derive from popular culture which, however, has not been scientifically accepted. Butterflies, or Lepidoptera, include something like more than one hundred and fifty thousand different species (and in the context of Insects they are the second group in number behind only Beetles), ranging from strange and tiny shapes to classic homegrown butterflies, passing through tropical specimens with a wingspan of thirty centimeters. They are also the object of an extreme and very elitist collection, but above all they are loved for the grace with which they fly and for the extraordinary colors and patterns with which their wings are designed, both when they are in motion and when they are stationary perhaps on a flower, perfect moment for great photos.

The downside

Just as nature is not all beautiful waterfalls, sunsets to leave speechless and docile animals, but there are also tropical storms, earthquakes, hurricanes and many other violent forms, even if natural, the same also applies to the animal world: not all animals and not all insects are just as beautiful to see flying and photographing as butterflies, but many also have more negative sides to their behavior. And one of the best examples are butterflies: graceful, elegant and colorful in the adult stage as well as voracious and ugly in the larval stage. In fact, before becoming so beautiful, butterflies go through various phases (which we will see better in the next paragraph), one of which – that of larva – is particularly negative for the plants on which the eggs are deposited: the larvae of almost all the butterfly species are extremely voracious and hungry, and to this they also combine a chewing apparatus of true “mastiffs”, that is, robust and tireless. For this reason, the deposition of butterfly eggs on a plant is like an infestation, because the larvae that come out will presumably eat most of the leaves of the plant on which they “live”.

Lepidoptera: Development and contrast

There are four stages of development of the butterfly: there is the state of deposition which is in the form of eggs, after which comes the larval state, already mentioned above to be really negative for plants and also for some crops in which the seeds and small plants can be excellent food; this phase is that of the caterpillar, famous for children’s fairy tales in which it turns into a butterfly. And this really happens, because in the third phase the caterpillar becomes a pupa curling up inside self-produced silk and waiting motionless to become a real and beautiful butterfly when its envelope opens. But how do you counteract the butterfly larvae that attack our plants? 1) we should not fight other insects that eat them, such as Diptera, which, however, often have other negative aspects for the plants themselves, 2) there are specific products that act in various ways, some by removing the butterfly and therefore not letting the eggs deposit (preventive) and some by preventing the development of the larva and therefore leading it to death before it can do damage. In general, however, it is preferred to avoid chemical uses, except when there is no real invasion and above all a great economic risk of the producer.

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