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Part XVI : Seasonal Changes in animal Populations

How Do the Animals in the Biosphere Change from One Season to Another?
Animals in Spring - a time to reproduce and increase in numbers

Topic Chapters Index

 

More information on how animals insects from other sections of the ODWS

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Cabbage White Butterfly larvae © Paul Billiet

Cabbage White butterfly larvae, pupa and adult

A pupa attached to the bark of a tree © Paul Billiet

Adult Cabbage White Butterfly © Paul Billiet

 

Fact File No.109

Butterfly and moth larvae are called caterpillars
Beetle larvae are called grubs
Fly larvae are called maggots
The pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis
The pupa of a moth develops in a cocoon of silk.

 

 

 

 

SEASONAL CHANGES IN ANIMAL POPULATIONS

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Insects in Spring

 

Adult dragonfly © Paul Billiet

 

Many people think that at the end of summer all the insects die. Obviously, this is nonsense. Where would the insects that are seen in springtime come from? Many insects pass through winter in a resting stage, as eggs or as pupae. Insects, such as dragonflies, have larvae called nymphs which are aquatic (meaning they live in water). These nymphs can remain quite active during the winter period, as long as the water does not freeze.

 

Black-veined white butterflies mating © Paul Billiet

 

Only the adult insects are sexually mature. In springtime the eggs and pupae, which have spent the winter in a dormant state, complete their development. The adults which emerge from the pupae lose no time in finding mates.

Most adult insects have wings and, before she lays her eggs, the female may fly quite a distance to find a suitable supply of food for the next generation. This helps to disperse the species.

The majority of insects metamorphose as shown by the following life cycle of the cabbage white butterfly.

 

Life cycle of the Cabbage White Butterfly © Paul Billiet

 

The larvae are sexually immature. Their function is to eat and grow. They need to shed their skin a few times in order to increase in size. This is called moulting. At the final moult, the skin becomes hard as the insect enters its pupation. Inside the pupa the tissues of the larva are broken down and re-arranged into the adult form. After a certain period of time, which may be over the winter months, an adult insect emerges from the pupa. The cycle is now complete.

 

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