Why is the monarch butterfly so popular?

More than beautiful, monarch butterflies contribute to the health of our planet. While feeding on nectar, they pollinate many types of wildflowers. The flowers they chose are varieties that are brightly colored, grow in clusters, stay open during the day, and have flat surfaces that serve as landing pads for their tiny guests. Monarch butterflies are also an important food source for birds, small animals, and other insects.

The vivid markings of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) serves as a “skull and crossbones” warning, signaling “Poison!” to the butterfly’s predators. Female monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of poisonous milkweed leaves. As the caterpillar hatches, it eats its own egg; then switches to a diet of milkweed leaves. The milkweeds’ toxins remain permanently in the monarch’s system, even after the caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly. Animals that eat a monarch become very sick and, thereafter, will avoid this distinctively patterned butterfly.

Monarch butterflies live mainly in prairies, meadows, grasslands and along roadsides, across most of North America. The adult butterfly drinks nectar from a variety of flowers, uncoiling and extending its long proboscis to sip food. When not in use, this flexible “tongue” coils back into a spiral.

Most monarchs will live only a few weeks, but the generation that emerges in late summer and early fall is different. These butterflies are born to travel and may live for eight or nine months to accomplish their lengthy migration. Scientists think the monarchs use the position of the sun and the changing weather to know when it’s time for their long journey.

Credit : National Park Service

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What kind of animal is a dragonfly?

Dragonfly, (suborder Anisoptera), also called darner, devil’s arrow, or devil’s darning needle, any of a group of roughly 3,000 species of aerial predatory insects most commonly found near freshwater habitats throughout most of the world. Damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) are sometimes also called dragonflies in that both are odonates (order Odonata).

Young dragonflies, called larvae or sometimes nymphs or naiads, are aquatic and are as dedicated predators under water as the adults are in the air. The functionally wingless larvae are usually mottled or dull in colour, matching the sediments or water plants among which they live. They have bulging eyes somewhat similar to the adults, but possess a formidable anatomical structure not present in the adult. Called the “mask,” it is a fusion of the larva’s third pair of mouthparts. Disproportionately large, the mask folds beneath both the head and thorax when it is not in use. At the end of the mask is a set of fanglike pincers used to seize prey such as worms, crustaceans, tadpoles, and small fish. Different species of dragonfly larvae can be described as sprawlers, burrowers, hiders, or claspers. Their shape, metabolism, and respiration differ concordantly with the microhabitat they occupy.

Larvae crawl from eggs laid in or near water. Some species lay their eggs inside plant tissue, others attach their eggs to substrates at or above the water’s surface, and some may drop or wash their eggs from their abdomen onto water. Larvae absorb oxygen from the water using gills inside the rectum. The abdomen draws water in and pumps it out again through the anus. Water can be forcibly expelled in this way, resulting in jet propulsion as a means of escape. Solid waste is also expelled in this manner. As the larva grows, it molts, its future wings first becoming apparent about halfway through the larva’s development. These wing sheaths then enlarge rapidly with each successive molt. Eventually, the larva crawls out of the water (often at night) and molts one last time, emerging as an adult and leaving behind a cast skin (exuvia).

Many dragonfly families have descriptive common names associated with their scientific names. Examples include the hawkers (Aeshnidae), petaltails (Petaluridae), and clubtails (Gomphidae). Numerous other names related to neither taxonomy nor fact have traditionally been applied to dragonflies, such as horse stinger. Dragonflies have also been known as “snake doctors” in the American South, owing to the superstition that they nurse ill snakes back to health. The term devil’s darning needle is derived from a superstition that dragonflies may sew up the eyes, ears, or mouth of a sleeping child, especially one who has misbehaved. In reality, dragonflies present no danger to humans.

Credit : Britannica 

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What type of animal is a sea turtle?

Seven different species of sea (or marine) turtles grace our ocean waters, from the shallow seagrass beds of the Indian Ocean, to the colorful reefs of the Coral Triangle and the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific. While these highly migratory species periodically come ashore to either bask or nest, sea turtles spend the bulk of their lives in the ocean. WWF's work on sea turtles focuses on five of those species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and olive ridley.

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

WWF is committed to stopping the decline of sea turtles and works for the recovery of the species. We work to secure environments in which both turtles and the people that depend upon them can survive.

Credit : World Wildlife Fund

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What type of crab is red crab?

The red rock crab (aka red crab, rock crab) is similar to -- but smaller than -- the Dungeness. This species usually measures less than 6 inches across the back and is characterized by large claws. Despite being less meaty than the Dungeness, red rock crab meat is also very tasty. It can be distinguished from the Dungeness by the presence of black on the tips of its claws and by its red coloration. The red rock crab also prefers rocky substrates, as the name implies.

The red crab has been described as the “other big crab.” The red crab is one of several related species of crustaceans that live in various deep stretches of the Atlantic. Red crabs flank the edge of the continental shelf from Nova Scotia south to the Gulf of Mexico. Blue crabs are called swimming crabs because they can use their paddle-like rear legs to propel themselves through the water. Red crabs have no choice but to walk along the sea floor. Most live at greater depths than do the king crabs.

At the depths where red crabs live, there is little or no light to navigate, and water temperatures hover around 38 degrees. The red crabs scuttle across the ocean floor at depths from 600 feet to a mile deep. Often the red crabs must rely on food that sinks down from the surface. The carcasses of dead whales sometimes provide a kind of nutrition bonanza that the crabs can sniff out from long distances away.

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What kind of animal is a wildebeest?

Also known as the gnu, the wildebeest is a member of the antelope family. They have a large, box-like head with curving horns. The front end of their body is heavily built, while the hindquarters are slender with spindly legs. They have a gray coat and a black mane as well as a beard that can be black or white. There are several races of wildebeest. The species forming the large herds of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania is known as the western white-bearded wildebeest, while the eastern white-bearded races inhabit Kenya and Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift. The brindled, or blue, race occurs south of the Zambezi River.

Their habitat is threatened by fragmentation, which is caused when land is fenced off for agriculture. While they are widespread and abundant in certain areas, the spread of civilization and agriculture, the reduction of water sources, and poaching are threatening this iconic species’ survival.

These large mammals are continually on the move, as they seek favorable supplies of grass and water. The famous Serengeti population of wildebeest is a very large nomadic group. This group makes a migratory circle of 800 to 1,610 kilometers (500 to 1,000 miles) each year, beginning right after the calving season at the start of the year. They are relentless in their advance and many are injured, lost (especially calves), or killed. By the end of the dry season, the wildebeest have almost exhausted the grazing lands and return to the Serengeti plains as the rains begin.

Credit : African Wildlife Foundation

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