Dr. Ernst's Butterflies
Many patients have expressed their appreciation for the beauty of the butterflies that can be seen throughout the office. This often leads to a side discussion about the butterflies. As time does not permit me to answer all the questions in detail I have provided answers to the questions I most commonly receive.
Where Did The Butterflies Come From?
Each of our seemingly endless New Jersey winters I pick a new activity or interest to study. These have included celestial navigation, offshore passage sailing, scuba diving, learning to play the harmonica, Bach's prelude 1 C Major, Inventions 8 and 13, Fugue 21, B-flat Major on the piano, reading the comparative works of Shakespeare, and studying Lepidoptera, ..., to name a few. Lepidoptera is an Order in the Animal Kingdom that includes Butterflies and Moths. All of the specimens you see in the office were mounted by me. They were either caught by me, raised by me, or purchased from scientific companies or indigenous peoples. For example, the Ornithoptera (Birdwing Butterflies) are raised by the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea. Ornithoptera are the largest species of butterflies in our world with a wingspan of up to 8 inches.
Ornithoptera (Birdwing Butterflies)
What Gives Butterflies Their Color?
The color of the butterflies wings are created either by pigments or structural coloration. The yellow, white, black and brown are true pigments. Touch the wing and you will get colored powder on your fingers. The iridescent reds, greens, and blues are created by structural coloration. There is no pigment, touch the wing and there is no pigment. Structural color is created by microscales and grooves on the wing which cause a coherent scattering of light that results in the iridescent colors.
What Is The Difference Between Butterflies And Moths?
Butterflies and moths are distinguished from each other by their anatomic features and biologic activity.
Morphology and Anatomy
Insect Butterfly Moth
Antennas rounded clubs on end thin and often feathery
Body thin and smooth thick and fuzzy
Active during the day during the night
Color colorful dull
Pupal Stage chrysalis cocoon
Wings held vertically at rest held flat against the at rest
However, in nature, there are always exceptions to the rules. For example,the Madagascar Sunset Moth is a moth that flies during the day time. It is part of the Uraniidas family and is widely appreciated as one of the most beautiful moths. The colors you see are all structural. There is no pigment.
A number of species of butterflies migrate to tropics to spend the winter, lucky them. We all are probably familiar with our own Monarch Butterfly which has a complicated migration cycle to Mexico each year. Another example of a butterfly which migrates is the Blue Mountain Butterfly, Papillo Ulysses.
The Blue Mountain Butterfly migrates from New Zealand and Australia each fall to spend the winter on a mountain on a tropical island in Indonesia. The masses of Papillo Ulysses are said to turn the mountain blue.
Interesting Butterfly Facts
The eyes of butterflies and moths are constructed of thousands of lenses. They have no lungs but instead have little holes on each side of its body to breathe through. They use their feet for tasting and its antennas for smelling. Catapillar blood is green because it contains Hemocyanin instead of Hemoglobin(oxygenated red blood cells). Hemocyanin contains copper and Hemoglobin contains iron. Oxygenated Hemocyanin patinates. This is similar to the green patina seen on the Statue of Liberty. Some butterflies, such as the Mourning Cloak Butterfly, over winter as adults.
The Mourning Cloak butterfly is indigenous to Morris County and can be seen flying on sunny days in late March with the ground still completely snow covered.
Photographs Of Butterflies On Display
Costa Rica, Central America
Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa
Paraguay, South America
Ivory Coast, Africa