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Amazing insects of tropical savannah

SCIENTISTS describe insects as invertebrates within the arthropod phylum that have an exoskeleton covers a body which is divided into three major parts, it is believed that the number of species of insects is between six to ten million which enable them to occupy 90% of all animals which inhabit the whole world.

Zoologists say from the banks of Mount Kilimanjaro through beautiful plains of central Tanzania to the slopes of southern highlands, approximately, a farmer planting maize in Njombe or rice in Mbeya is surrounded by more than 200,000,000 different insects which out numbers other animals on Earth.

Insects are invertebrate animals which are found among Arthropod a group of creatures with unique ability of living in different environments even where others avoid staying, in a simple explanation in tropical and subtropical grasslands, shrub lands and savannah are generally grasslands located in semi-arid to semi humid climate regions of subtropical and tropical areas of the Earth.

Scientists believe that, because of these regions our planet differentiate itself from other in the entire galaxy because these portions of the Earth, this planet is the home millions of creatures and the butterfly is one of them.

Scientists believe that butterflies are capable of calculating the position of the Sun to determine the map and they direction they want to take by using an organic campus located into their antennas that why they don’t lose their way even on cloudy day.

Butterflies depend on nectar which is uncommon foodstuff composed of sugar, salt and other nutritious materials collected from flowers of different vegetation both in farms, gardens and bushes, other sources of nectar are animals’ corpse, dung of living animals, rotten leftovers and sweat of human body.

The feeding process of the butterfly is done through two Proboscis tubes which are flexible straws capable of erecting to be pushed and penetrate deep into the flower to collect the sweet juice then the insect will clean the tubes and roll or coil it like spring to store it for future usage.

From a great distant location butterflies are capable of collecting and differentiate varieties flowers and select areas where vegetation with sweetest nectar by using two antennas which stand on their heads and capable sensing more than 200 aromas at a time by using two powerful glands called sensillae which depend on other glands called scolopidia which enable them to rotate and bend from one direction to another.

Miraculously female butterflies from some species don’t eat anything instead they live comfortably throughout their lives while depending on nutritious materials from males which are obtained while matting in a process called spermatophore this is because male butterflies have a very good ability of collecting different kind of lovable and nourishing nectar which they use as a gift of flowers to their wives.

With knowledge of their short lives which last not more than 14 days, male butterflies must not waste time and are forced to apply a number of smart and manipulations and quick ways to find a breeding partner before they lost the precious bright colours on their wings which is used to attract female for first three to five days of their life.

This is done successful because butterflies are equipped with 17,000 eyes called compound eyes which enabling these beautiful insects to have 360-degree vision so they can give attention to a beautiful female while accurately keeping high concentration of any enemy on the rear side but all butterflies have capability of seeing Ultra violet colours on flowers where human eyes can only see seven colours.

These powerful eyes are also used to identify an opposite sex and right specie when two butterflies come across each other in the sky or while foraging on the ground vegetation but they can accomplish the mission without flapping their wings against each other to release chemical with special odor which identify clearly sex and specie of each other.

This is the main reason for two butterflies to be seen in the sky chasing and embracing each other quickly before male butterflies’ wings loose colour and strength and become unattractive to breading partners because among members of this society colours is an important element when it comes to select a good breeding partner.

Butterfly and some other flying insects are able to mate for several hours while flying with male carrying his partner for a certain distant before his wife take control to pilot the landing on safety leaf of selected host plant where the eggs will be laid and fixed with a special glue and left to hutch on their own under protection of an outer shell called chorion.

It’s from the leaf where a complex metamorphosis life circle of a butterfly start as the eggs may several weeks to be hutched into vegetarian larvae or caterpillars who passes through growing stage called instar which are marked by the removal or molting of old outer flexible cover and the hardening of a new protection cover.

It’s during this second metamorphosis stage where pair legs develop but the wings disk may not come out until the end of the last instar but near the coming of Pupa flexible but delicate full grown wings are forced out by special pressure from the body which also doesn’t eat anything after going through a period of hormone changes.

Then the caterpillar will leave and anchor itself under a leaf where it will develop into a Pupa or Chrysalis which is the third metamorphosis stage of butterfly dominated by a very important dormant state of several weeks that allow the transformation of caterpillar into a full grown body called Imago which is a sexually matured and very beautiful adult capable to fly after spending two hours to dry its wings.

Butterflies are very beautiful and many people like them so its high time for tour operators in the northern circuit to including them in their package for tourists, other areas in the country where you can watch these magnificent insects are Ngorongoro, Amani forest reserve in Tanga and Kitulo national park in Mbeya.

Butterflies are source of food for many predators including dragonflies, with medium sized body among insects, dragonflies have big and very powerful wings which enable them to fly at a top speed of 97 kilometers per hour, among insects this is a tremendous speed that is out of reach by many other insects because while maintaining the same pace, dragonflies are able to change their movement into six different directions.

On the other hand, an adult dragonfly is able to fly incredibly at nearly 60 miles per hour or 97 kilometers per hour, scientific researches indicate that a dragonfly can remarkably propel itself at a maximum speed of 10 to 15 meters per second with average cruising speed of about 4.5 meters per second, at the same super speed, the dragonfly is able to glide higher, move forward or side to side on air without losing its stability due to its weight and flexibility of its wings which are attached on the thorax.

Scientists say dragonflies are gifted with powerful thorax which works efficiently with veins to supply blood and oxygen to muscles and create the required flexibility on the wings for a speedy flight. The structure of their thorax allows the muscles which create flaps on wings to work independently from other parts of the body and create enough energy for a rapid movement on air.

On the other hand, Kerengende is the Swahili name for dragonflies a group of insect which is divided into more than 5,680 subspecies dwelling different wetlands of the world. Moreover, dragonflies are found in the order of Odonata, a group which comprises carnivorous insects with big eyes and two pairs of transparent wings attached in long but narrow body. rstanslaus@yahoo.com

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Author: Reginald Stanislaus Matillya

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