Sunday, 21 July 2013

PARASITES






Whilst processing some of my recently taken butterfly images I found these taken of a Marbled White (melanargia galathia) that had quit a few red parasites attached.


 I've seen butterflies with these parasites before but didn't really know what they were or what affect they may have had on their butterfly host. A little bit of research and I soon came up with some interesting  information....

trombidium breei  is the name of this particular mite that attaches itself to mainly the males, (but in these images they are attached to a female!) of Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Skipper and the Marbled White butterflies.  While attached it feeds on the blood of its host and will normally drop off after a few days. It can also transfer from host to host as they congregate on their food plants.

Incredibly they know how to attach themselves onto the area of the butterfly's centre of gravity (around the underside of the head) or longitudinally  along the abdomen so as not to upset the butterfly's orientation or its ability to fly!





The good thing is that the butterfly appears to suffer no ill effects which, I guess, is a way of the parasite ensuring that there will be a good supply of hosts for next year!

17 comments:

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Trevor Well, These are fantastic close up shots of this butterfly and the parasites attached. It is very interesting to learn about them and glad to know they do not harm to the butterflies. I still do NOT know how anyone can get them wonderful shots of Butterflies becaue when down in my 'old caravan' in a field made for butterflies, I watched them (mainly Meadow Brown's) but I found them extremely difficult to photograph them. I also saw some White's adn over 4 days, I NEVER saw one land at all!!! I'm telling you, these Irish butterflies are just tooooo busy!! Margaret

Frank said...

Interesting post Trev and some nice close up of the blood sucking mites.

I have also noticed this recently on Marbled Whites and a White Admiral.

The Herald said...

Thanks Margaret, glad you found it interesting. All these images were taken with the 100mm Macro lens...which means a lots of crawling along on my knees, or lower, through the vegetation! It must be hilarious to watch!!
Keep trying Margaret I'm sure those Irish butterflies will run out of steam eventually!...[;o)

Thanks Frank. Yeh, I've also seen lots of 'infested' Meadow Browns around!...[;o)

Bob Bushell said...

Cor, blood sucking parasites, but it doesn't hurt, good news. Brilliant photos Trevor.

The Herald said...

Thanks Bob. Yeh, mini Draculas!!...[;o)

Roy Norris said...

You have taken some amazing images here Trevor.
Yes I have seen some like this in the past, but its usually only one bug per butterfly.

The Herald said...

Cheers Roy. Yeh, this one seems to have more than it's fair share of bugs!...[;o)

Maria said...

This is amazing information (and photographs). Thanks for sharing these.

The Herald said...

Thanks Maria, I'm glad you found it interesting!...[;o)

grammie g said...

Hi Trevor...That is down right creepy,to bad the butterfly has no way to slap them a good one like we can a mosquitoes ; ), but how kind of them to attach themselves in a place that the butterfly can fly while they suck there blood "yuck"!!

Hey great shot's all the same with great info!!

Grace

The Herald said...

Thanks Grace. Although it doesn't look very pretty, it's good to know that no harm is being done to the butterflies!...[;o)

holdingmoments said...

Cracking set of pictures Trevor, and some interesting info too. Great post.

The Herald said...

Thanks Keith...[;o)

douglas mcfarlane said...

I like the way parasites have adapted not to adversly effect their hosts (sometimes), great detail of the parasite, is the weather a factor too?

The Herald said...

Douglas, I've done some more research on these parasites and haven't really found anything new! I can't even find out why they exist at all or what their purpose is!! As for the effect that the weather has on them, at the moment I suspect it just makes them sweat...the same as it's doing to me!!...[;o)

ADRIAN said...

I don't know how I missed this. These are very interesting. Great shots as always.

The Herald said...

Thanks Adrian...[;o)