Lev Bely, 23.04.2012 16:58
Strong storms moved through the Midwest (USA) lately and brought unwelcome guests to Nebraska. Leon Highley, an entomologist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that butterflies and moths which presently flutter around Lincoln and Lancaster County were carried with a recent storm from Gulf Coast.
One day later, Highley found a dead painted lady butterfly (Vanessa) on campus. “My guess is it was blown up from the Gulf states. They don't overwinter. Generally, some insects fly up into the air and wait for the right weather system to carry them to other parts of the country. It's part of an evolutionary strategy to expand their range.”
Next-to-last weekend's storm struck across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. This storm was originated from the confrontation of cold and warm air masses, the latter came from Gulf Coast and resulted in multiple tornadoes.
“Some of the moths and butterflies flitting around are native to Nebraska. — Highley said. — Some of the Gulf Coast visitors, the black cutworm moth (Agrotis ipsilon), for example, may not be harmless. Their larvae threaten corn seedlings.”
The warmest recorded March and a mild April may also make for more butterflies and moths than usual, Highley said.
Highley's colleague Jim Kalisch, an Extension entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, confirmed that there are more butterflies than could normally be due to that the recent winter was warm. “Army cutworm moths (Euxoa auxiliaris) don't come up from the South, but migrate east to west. They also damage crops, including alfalfa. The moths usually come in waves and could be around for a while.”
Lincoln Journal Star, http://journalstar.com
Photo: a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
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