Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Skipping meals may affect butterfly wing size, coloration

Date:
April 2, 2014
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
High food stress may impact wing size and coloration -- both indicators of migratory success -- in monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies migrate long distances according to the seasons every year. Because this requires so much energy, they rely on access to food during early stages of growth so that they can develop the necessary characteristics to safely complete the trek, including appropriate wing shape and coloration.

This is a female monarch.
Credit: Pat Davis; CC-BY

High food stress may impact wing size and coloration -- both indicators of migratory success -- in monarch butterflies, according to results published April 2, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Haley Johnson from University of Jamestown and colleagues.

Related Articles


Monarch butterflies migrate long distances according to the seasons every year. Because this requires so much energy, they rely on access to food during early stages of growth so that they can develop the necessary characteristics to safely complete the trek, including appropriate wing shape and coloration. To better understand the effects of food on growth, the authors of this study deprived late-stage larvae of milkweed and later measured the effect on the adults' wing size and coloration. The three test groups were those with no food restriction, those with 24-hour food restriction (low-stress), or those with 48-hour restriction (high stress). After metamorphosis, scientists imaged and analyzed the forewing length, width, and surface area, as well as the brightness of the orange wing pigment and the intensity of black pigment.

Although the effects on wing color and shape were unclear, the authors found that two days of larval food restriction may have caused a small but clear reduction in adult wing size, by approximately 2%. Limited access to milkweed stunts monarch wings, which could ultimately result in lower migration success. The authors also found that the quality of wing pigmentation in monarch butterflies was partly influenced by larval food supply, although the effects were ambiguous and require further study. Similarly, the effect on wing shape was also not easily-interpretable.

Co-author Andy Davis added, "There is increasing scientific and public concern over the loss of milkweeds throughout the range of monarchs in North America. Our study provides some answers to what can happen when monarch caterpillars run low on food."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Haley Johnson, Michelle J. Solensky, Dara A. Satterfield, Andrew K. Davis. Does Skipping a Meal Matter to a Butterfly's Appearance? Effects of Larval Food Stress on Wing Morphology and Color in Monarch Butterflies. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e93492 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093492

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Skipping meals may affect butterfly wing size, coloration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402212523.htm>.
PLOS. (2014, April 2). Skipping meals may affect butterfly wing size, coloration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402212523.htm
PLOS. "Skipping meals may affect butterfly wing size, coloration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402212523.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A gorilla comes to the rescue of her sister who fell into a moat in Israel&apos;s Safari zoo. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

California on Alert Over Surge in Sea Lion Strandings

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) Since the start of the year, thousands of baby sea lions have washed up on beaches along the west coast of the United States. Marine animal care centers are working around the clock to save the stranded creatures. Duration: 02:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Giant Amphibian Fossils Found in Portugal

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) Scientists discover a new species of giant amphibian that was one of the largest predators on earth about 220 million year ago. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rhino Goes on Deadly Rampage in Nepal

Rhino Goes on Deadly Rampage in Nepal

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A rhino runs rampant down a bustling city street, killing one woman and injuring several others, before security personnel chase it back into the forest. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins