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Diana Fritillary by Caroline Merriman (Age: 13)

First of all I would like to thank Allison Bruning for this class. She is the author of several books and the boss for academic warriors. You can find her at academicwarriors.com or at abruning@academicwarriors.com

I like all butterflies, but my favorite butterfly is the endangered Diana Fritillary. They are usually found in the north eastern mountains of Alabama, but I have seen them at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. It has a wingspan of up to 4 inches long (Ogard)! That’s as long as a slice of cake! If you are looking for a male Diana Fritillary, the colors are rich brown and velvety orange (Ogard). If you are looking for a female Diana Fritillary, the colors are jet black and iridescent blue (Ogard). 




Male Diana Fritillary

Diana Fritillaries have a complex mating cycle (Ogard). First, the males suck up on nectar for their mates (Ogard). Then, when the females emerge, the males and the females mate, and then the males go off and die (Ogard). By the middle of the summer, the surviving females build burrows under the trees (Ogard). They only come out to drink the nectar on flowers (Ogard). They come out again in the early fall (Ogard). Then the females lay their eggs and the cycle starts over (Ogard)! 

A caterpillar has to endure harsh dangers before metamorphosing into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly. Like trying not to get eaten by birds, bats, and spiders. That’s why butterflies, caterpillars and even some chrysalises have developed techniques to elude predators, like camouflage. Some butterflies have eyes on their wings. Others blend into the surroundings and the bird/bat/spider that was chasing them flies right past them and then that butterfly goes the other way. And others mimic their fellow poisonous friends to make the bat/bird/spider think “Umm I am not going to eat that butterfly, it’s poisonous!” But most butterflies just have to get to their camouflaged home before the bird/bat/spider eats them alive. Some don’t make it, even with the camouflage and/or mimicking. The bird/bat/spider finds them, eats them, and they die within the belly of the bird/bat/spider.

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