On the grand scale, Tropical Storm Isaac just missed us but on the smaller scales of things.. insect scales? it was rough for the insects. Butterflies are easily affected by high winds and rain. To survive, they find areas in your yard or woods that are sheltered from winds and driving rains. Around the house an insect may find a quiet corner to stay in, maybe go up under the eves or anywhere that takes them out of direct wind and rain.
This White Peacock Butterfly is lying down, almost flat in the green dog fennel bushes along the canal at Harns Marsh, here in Lehigh. How’s that for avoiding bad weather? Make like a leaf. At first, I thought I was looking at a leaf! Insects are affected by subtle changes in heat and even barometric pressure, everything from the smallest ant, to the largest butterfly is affected by heat, light and moisture among other things.
Watching Summer dragonflies buzzing over our backyards, ditches and empty lots, we see a species dependent on the ability to respond to temperature changes in its environment through Thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is regulating ones internal body temperature even when the surrounding temperature is different. These animals are also referred to as being ectothermic or just ectotherms – a more common description would be “Cold-Blooded.” Reptiles, fish and yes, even insects have to regulate their temperatures in order to function and they have learned to do it quite well, not being at the total mercy of their environments. We see alligators moving in and out of heat and cold to “get just right” or “regulated” internally.
Alligators and lizards have the ability to regulate their internal temperatures by moving around in their environment to cool off in the shadows, or to get warm on a log or bank. One way for dragonflies to keep from overheating on a hot sunny day is to become less active. I’m sure you’ve seen a dragonfly perched with its wings pointing forward and down – this is a dragonfly that is regulating its body temperature by positioning its wings so that they are absorbing less of the suns rays and that dragonflies internal temperature? around 110 degrees F.
Watching dragonflies, we see another highly efficient hunter capable of catching their prey – mosquitos, butterflies, moths etc.. on the wing. They like to land or “perch” on a stalk to devour their prey. If they have devoured a moth or a butterfly, all you may see left over on the ground are the wings. Have you watched a dragonfly eat? They don’t waste any time and the prey is quickly reduced to wings. Summer brings us two Dragons to watch, one of the air, and one of the water.
Alligators and Crocs have been around for 200 million years and Dragonflies around 300 million years. Both of them share similar adaptations that have allowed them to survive in their environments despite being Cold-Blooded. That’s pretty cool!