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Unusually long-lived Painted Lady butterfly

  1. May 4, 2009 #1


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    Hi! I'm not sure whom I should talk to about this, but here goes.

    My girlfriend and I got a bunch of Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars (second instar at the time) from a conservatory the day after Valentine's Day. According to what I've read on the Internet, the butterflies should live 2-4 weeks after they emerge from their pupae.

    Well, if that's the case, apparently dear old Marvin didn't know that he was supposed to die. He's still alive, and it's May 4th. He hatched around March 3rd. He is now over 8 weeks old. Put it this way: he's right now sharing his butterfly house with his grand-nephew's pupa...because he lived long enough to hit on his niece.

    None of the other first generation butterflies lived past five weeks. I was doing some speculation and it made me start wondering if two or three of the original eight have a longevity gene. It would explain why this particular specimen has been so long-lived. Furthermore, ALL FOUR of the second generation butterflies are still around and they're pushing four weeks.

    Is there a large standard deviation in the age of these animals? If not, could there be a genetic thing that someone may want to look at? We're thinking of releasing the animals within a week or so, and I'm a little concerned that if there's some kind of favorable and/or dominant mutation that's making these butterflies live longer, we'd be messing with nature by releasing them.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2009 #2
    Because you did nothing to alter the butterfly, we can assume, that its long life occurred naturally. I see no problems with letting it fly free. What a cool thing to watch.
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