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Key to butterflies and caterpillars - we recognize harmful and beneficial insects


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The key to finding caterpillars is knowing about the different species of plants in your area where the female butterflies lay their eggs (also known as host plants). As soon as you know how to determine the host plant, you will be able to search for caterpillars that are natural for your territory on the leaves and flowers of such a plant.

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Get ready for a journey into the colorful world of insects! You will see unusual butterflies and caterpillars, common in the Moscow region, learn to identify them by external signs and just get aesthetic pleasure!

When we talk about the benefits of butterflies, then most often we mean the properties of adults. So, these insects are able to pollinate plants and attract birds to the garden. And if we mention the harm, then here we are talking about the stage of the caterpillar, when the insect actively eats plants and is capable of harming dacha plantings. Butterflies themselves feed on nectar and are absolutely safe for plant health. Therefore, we agree in advance that, calling the butterfly “harmful,” we mean its caterpillars.

And now let's get to know the most common fluttering insects that you can meet on your site and determine which ones are useful and which ones are harmful!

Admiral - butterfly with stripes

Vanessa atalanta, wingspan 50-65 mm

It’s easy to recognize the admiral: there are red stripes on both sides of his wings. According to one version, it is thanks to this color that the butterfly got its name, because Russian admirals used to have ribbons over their shoulders and red stripes on their trousers. The lower wings of the insect are also decorated with red stripes, on which black dots are clearly visible. The edges of the wings are wavy.

You can meet such a beautiful butterfly not only in Russia, but also in North Africa, North America and even New Zealand. To winter the admiral usually goes to the southern countries, but sometimes gets hammered under the bark of trees and stays there until spring. Previously, the admiral was included in the Red Book of Russia, but now the population has recovered.

Recognizing a future butterfly in the admiral’s caterpillar is not so easy. Dark color, yellow dots on the sides of the torso and frightening spikes - the insect is perfectly protected from birds and can mask. You can meet him from May to August on the leaves of nettle, hop and thistle.

How to attract an admiral’s butterfly. The admiral loves thistles, asters and blackberries, and at the end of the season he doesn’t mind eating cracked plums and pears, especially if they are fermented. Put some fruit in a bowl and the butterflies will fly by the smell. And to see the caterpillars, plant nettles on the site, which will also come in handy as plant nutrition.

Ancient Indians believed: if you catch a butterfly, whisper a cherished desire and release it, it will certainly come true. Give it a try!

Hawthorn - beautiful and treacherous

Aporia crataegi, wingspan 50-65 mm

Hawthorn can often be found in the gardens of the Moscow region. This beautiful butterfly with white wings, decorated with black veins, flies from an apple tree to a dog rose, from a mountain ash to a plum tree, from grapes to a pear to lay its eggs, from which gluttonous caterpillars will soon appear. Hawthorn - a "relative" of the famous cabbage. It prefers wetlands and easily travels long distances in search of food and a place for masonry.

Caterpillars of hawthorn are covered with thick hairs and in a short time are able to gnaw a whole bush or tree. They grow slowly, so they make nests for themselves in the trees for the winter. If leaves appeared on the branches, entangled in silk threads, be sure - the hawthorn has settled in your garden!

How to deal with the hawthorn and its caterpillars. You can place hunting belts on trees and put birdhouses to attract birds. In early spring, it is worth spraying the plants with a solution of copper sulfate (100 g per 10 l of water) with the addition of 500 g of urea. If there are a lot of pests, use insecticides: Alatar, Fatrin, Kinmiks, etc. Processing is carried out during the period of bud opening, when the caterpillars leave the winter nests, or in the summer after the caterpillars exit the eggs.

Cabbage - a dangerous pest of heads of cabbage

Pieris brassicae, wingspan - 45-63 mm

Cabbage, or cabbage, is familiar to every summer resident. You can meet her on the beds with cabbage, turnips, turnips and other cruciferous crops. The butterfly is frantically looking for a place for masonry, from which yellow-green caterpillars will soon appear. During the season, one individual lays up to 300 eggs!

Homely in appearance, the whitish is terrified by its appearance. Females should be especially wary of the main difference between which are black spots on the upper wings.

Gluttonous caterpillars of the whale eat the leaves and prevent the head of cabbage from forming. After a while, only veins remain from the leaf. When food runs out, pests creep into new plantings.

How to deal with the cabbage and its caterpillars. Safe methods include manual caterpillar picking and butterfly trapping. You can also plant marigolds, marigolds, mint or sage in the aisles, which will scare away the pests. A good way is to cover the cabbage with a mosquito net and an agricultural canvas so that the butterflies can not lay eggs. From folk remedies, spraying 2 tbsp. mustard and 1 tsp ground red pepper in 10 liters of water. And if there are a lot of insects, use Fitoverm, Karbofos, Actellik or another insecticide.

Urticaria - connoisseur of birch sap

Aglais urticae, wingspan - up to 50 mm

You probably have seen this butterfly more than once, but you could not even think that the offspring of this magnificent beauty eats stinging nettles! A special sign of urticaria is large black spots on dark orange wings. The hind wings are covered with small blue spots. The insect eats nectar of various colors, and also does not refuse birch sap.

One clutch of urticaria can number up to 150 eggs, of which black furry caterpillars emerge. They gradually begin to eat nettle, and on its top they build a nest of cobwebs to hide from the weather. After numerous molts, the caterpillar turns yellow-black and is ready for pupation.

How to attract urticaria. The answer is obvious - to plant nettles! But if you do not want to see this weed in a summer cottage, try pouring a little birch sap into flat containers to attract insects. And on the flower beds, plant lavender, oregano, echinacea, David's buddle, spiraea, bird cherry and other fragrant plants.

Willow Ribbon - Twilight Guest Catocala electa, wingspan - 65-88 mm

The second name of this butterfly is willow sash. The insect leads a twilight lifestyle, so in the afternoon you are unlikely to see it. The front wings of the butterfly are gray and inconspicuous, but the lower wings are bright red with a black border and spots in the middle. Moreover, in males a raspberry shade predominates, while in females it is red. Ribbon can be seen in the fall. Most often, it is found near ponds, in meadows and in wetlands. It feeds on tree sap.

The caterpillars of the willow ribbon are perfectly camouflaged. The yellow-gray torso is covered with small black dots, the head is brown. The insect eats leaves of willow and poplar, so it does no harm to summer crops. But if the willow grows on your site, be careful.

How to attract a ribbon holder. It would seem that the insect is nocturnal - why attract it? You can do this at least just to see this amazing butterfly. In the evening, turn on a flashlight or other artificial light source - and the ribbon holder will fly to visit you.

Lemongrass - a long-liver in the world of butterflies

Gonepteryx rhamni, wingspan - 52-60 mm

Lemongrass, or buckthorn, is a rather inconspicuous-looking butterfly from the family of whites. Small dots are placed in the center of its wings, and the wings themselves imitate the shape of leaflets on a tree. Nature has tried so that these insects can hide from their enemies!

Males have a more saturated wing color than females. In the latter, a greenish-white hue predominates in the color of the wings. The development cycle of one individual takes about a year, which is a rare occurrence in the world of butterflies. Therefore, lemongrass can safely be called a long-liver.

Lemongrass lays 1-2 eggs on buckthorn leaves. Then green smooth, slightly flattened caterpillars appear. Despite the great appetite and finicky, insects do not do much harm to the trees.

How to attract lemongrass. Basically, butterflies feed on dandelion nectar, meadow cornflower, thistle, but they will not refuse from cultivated plants. With weeds that attract lemongrass, in the suburban area is better to fight.

Malinitsa is a modest record holder by Charles J Sharp. Callophrys rubi, wingspan 26-28 mm

Raspberry and Raspberry Lycaenidae are the same butterfly from the genus Zelenushki. Notice it is not easy, because the outside of the insect is brown, and the inside is green. In addition, the butterfly is small and almost always keeps its wings folded for camouflage. You can meet her not only in the country house, where she flies for flower nectar, but also in swamps and meadows. Robin is common in the temperate zone of Eurasia. The habitat of the butterfly reaches the Polar Urals, and in the Alps it sometimes rises to a height of 1800 m!, author: Ponomarev A. G.

The caterpillars of the raspberry-fry have a rather rich "menu", which includes leaves of blueberries, heather, birch, gorse, buckthorn and other plants. But what about raspberries, you ask? Alas, the caterpillars of the raspberry-fry do not really give up raspberry and currant leaves. But despite food cravings, they are rare on these plants. Insects are sensitive to chemicals, so they prefer to stay away from suburban areas. In addition, in nature, this species is quite small.

Some Lycaena caterpillars are able to impersonate ants larvae. As a result, the ants feed the caterpillars, and the latter eat the eggs and the larvae of their benefactors without hesitation.

How to attract raspberries. Robin is not one of those butterflies that will vividly circle over the flowerbed. But if you grow clover, sweet peas or vetch, it can fly for a short time to collect sweet nectar.

Swallowtail - Butterfly Queen

Papilio machaon, wingspan - 64-95 cm

It's hard to miss such a butterfly! Machaon attracts attention with its large size and bright color. The butterfly got its name on behalf of the mythological doctor who participated in the Trojan War. A special omen of the swallowtail is the “tails” of up to 10 mm in length on the hind wings.

Swallowtail is found all over the world: in Europe, Asia, North America and North Africa. The butterfly population in the middle lane suffers from fires and trampling of meadows. The species is listed in the Red Book of Moscow.

Bright swallowtail caterpillars resemble fantastic creatures. Immediately after birth, they begin to eat. In the Moscow region, insects prefer umbrella crops: cow parsnip, carrots, parsley, fennel and dill. If the caterpillar falls on the bed, it can quickly destroy the aerial parts of plants. But this happens extremely rarely, because the machaon practically does not fly to summer cottages.

How to deal with swallowtail caterpillars. Carefully remove them and take them out of the site, planting on some umbrella culture. Be careful, the "horns" of the caterpillars emit caustic liquid, so it’s better not to pick up the insect with your hands, but tear off together with a piece of the plant on which it sits.

Peacock eye - the most picturesque butterfly of the middle strip

Aglais io, wingspan up to 62 mm

This butterfly will not leave indifferent any summer resident! The insect will adorn any flower garden and at the same time its offspring will not do any harm to the garden and vegetable garden. The rounded spots on the front and rear wings of the butterfly are very similar to the spots on the tail of a peacock. With the help of such a cunning device, the peacock eye often puzzles birds who would like to eat a butterfly.

The peacock eye caterpillar is not so noticeable, although its black spikes are also able to scare off enemies. Black caterpillars live in large colonies up to several tens of individuals. Basically, they prefer to eat nettles, thistles or hops, less often - willow and raspberries.

How to attract a peacock eye. These butterflies are excellent pollinators. To attract them to the garden, plant flowers of red, pink, orange or yellow shades on the flowerbed. And also plant some nettles on the plot.

How to deal with peacock eye caterpillars. The caterpillar invasion can damage the raspberry, but if in the spring you standardly treated with insecticides, do not worry about the safety of the crop. Pest colonies are easier to clean manually.

Mother-of-pearl - the enemy of apple, blackberry and raspberry

Argynnis paphia, wingspan up to 75 mm

Mother-of-pearl is a rather large day butterfly with an unusual spotted color. The name of the insect was given due to iridescent greenish-silver spots, by which butterflies recognize individuals of their species. In warm weather, flocks of mother-of-pearl can be seen busily flying over the flower beds. Also, these lepidopterans are found at the side of roads, in glades and near rivers. There are many subspecies. Argynnis paphia, the caterpillars of each of which feed on certain crops.

Most often in the country there is a large mother of pearl. The fodder plants for its caterpillars are apple, blackberry, raspberry, and violets. The body of the larvae is covered with many villi.

How to deal with mother of pearl and its caterpillars. There are many ways to protect plants from caterpillars. The easiest way is to set trapping belts or pheromone traps and inspect them regularly. Regular removal of twisted leaves and bird attraction will also help. Of the drugs, it is better to choose biological ones: Fitoverm, Bitobaxibacillin, Entobacterin, etc.

Speckled meadow - a poisonous insect

Zygaenidae, wingspan 16-38 mm

Groups of mottled animals often flutter over flower beds in sunny weather. Insects are easy to recognize: they have rounded red spots on dark blue or green wings. In addition, unlike other butterflies, the mottled meadow wings are folded roof-like, like moths. If you catch a butterfly, it will start releasing a frightening foam. In nature, no one hunts for a butterfly. It is poisonous and is very resistant to poisons.

Speckled caterpillars are densely covered with warts, from which small setae protrude. Body color: yellow-green with a scattering of black spots. Caterpillars can also release protective substances, so it’s better not to take insects with your bare hands. They feed mainly on clover and honey.

How to attract motley meadow. Plant clover, plantain, alfalfa or thyme on the plot. The butterfly will be delighted with the dandelion, but usually, on the contrary, they try to remove it from the site.

Burdock - lover of overseas travel

Vanessa cardui, wingspan 47-65 mm

Butterfly thistle, or thistle, is often confused with urticaria. They are really similar, but, unlike urticaria, the burdock is much larger and on its hind wings it has not blue, but black spots. From year to year, the number of this species varies. So, for example, in 2009 there were especially many of them.For the winter, thistles fly to North Africa, and then return to the European continent and begin breeding.

Females lay one egg at a thistle, burdock, coltsfoot, yarrow or nettle. After the birth of a caterpillar makes itself a shelter of leaves. For a lifetime, she can change them at least 7 pieces. Depending on the feed plant, the color of the caterpillars will also change. At the cottage, they will help in the fight against weeds and will become food for birds.

In the southern regions of Russia, caterpillars of burdock can infect tomatoes, eggplants, soybeans, and melons.

How to attract a thistle woman. Plant cosmei, asters, buds, David buddha, phloxes and other plants attractive for butterflies on flower beds. Thistle thickets near the site will also attract the attention of burdock.

Fathead - unpretentious beauty Hesperiidae, wingspan 18-70 mm

Most often, a thick-headed head is found in meadows and forest edges. From May to August, you can observe bright butterflies fluttering over clover, a tenacious creeper and other plants. But not all fatheads have a rich color, there are among them specimens that easily mimic a dry tree leaf.

The peculiarity of the caterpillars is a spindle-shaped body and a massive head, because of which the butterfly got its name. Depending on the species, the nutrition of the caterpillars differs. Mostly they prefer bluegrass, meadow fescue, wheat grass, and other wild grasses and weeds. Caterpillars and pupae hibernate in the ground.

How to attract a fathead. Butterflies are unpretentious in choosing nectar, but prefer flowers from the family Asteraceae: calendula, marigolds, sunflowers, marigolds, chicory, etc.

Butterflies are much more beneficial than harmful. And if there are too many caterpillars on your site, the reason may be a violation of crop rotation rules or the abuse of chemicals that, along with harmful insects, destroy useful ones. Try to maintain a natural balance in the suburban area, and caterpillars will less likely damage your plants.