What do we see in nature?
I live in the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, so I don’t always get to see a lot of nature. Do you think this might be a problem for city residents? There are few green spaces close to my neighborhood. Most of the city consists of cement buildings and paved roads. There are a few parks in the city center that have some trees. There are also streams and a river that runs through the city. You really have to go outside of the city to find plants and greenery! .
However, when you do, you’ll find a lot! I’ve spent the past few weeks exploring some of the natural wonders the Dominican Republic has to offer. I’ve seen mountains, beaches, waterfalls, rivers and oceans. I’ve also spottedsome of the animals that live here. There is a lot of natural beauty in this country, which means that we have a lot worth protecting! How do you think you can help protect the natural world?
What does this creature or plant look like?
I visited a butterfly garden at a ranch in Jarabacoa. Jarabacoa is a small mountain town about 32 miles south of Santiago. The butterfly garden has many species of butterflies that feed on different types of greenery in the garden. The staff take care of the garden. They also educate visitors about the different types of butterflies in the garden and the life of a butterfly.
At the butterfly garden, I saw a zebra butterfly for the first time! A zebra butterfly has long, thin wings with horizontal black and white stripes, much like a real zebra. It’s scientific name is Heliconius charithonia. Try to pronounce that five times fast!
How did I feel when I saw it?
I was very excited when I saw the zebra butterfly for the first time. Even though they can be found in the United States, I had never seen one before! I was anxious to take a picture, but the butterfly kept flying away! There were only a few zebra butterflies in the garden, so it was hard to find one. But after waiting a long time and walking very slowly and carefully, I was able to snap a picture without scaring away the butterfly.
I love butterflies! They are very beautiful and come in all types of shapes, sizes and colors. I was thrilled to be surrounded by these beautiful creatures and learn more about them at the same time.
Where does it live?
The zebra butterfly lives in the Dominican Republic as well as other warm climates in the Americas. You can even find zebra butterflies in the southern part of the United States.
How does it use its environment to survive?
The zebra butterfly survives off the passion flower, or chinola (chee-NO-la) in Spanish. The butterflies get their nutrients from passion flower pollen. They lay their eggs on the passion flower leaves. After the egg hatches, it becomes a caterpillar and feeds on the passion flower leaves. The caterpillar then forms a cocoon and transfers into a beautiful zebra butterfly. It needs the passion flower plant to live. The zebra butterfly can live up to three months.
What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?
Because the zebra butterfly needs passion flower plants to live, harming passion flower plants can harm the butterfly. This might happen through using pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals that are used to get rid of harmful bugs on plants. Farmers might put pesticides on passion flower plants to make sure bugs don’t damage the plants before their fruits are sold to make juices and other things. Pesticides may kill zebra butterflies or damage eggs on passion flower leaves. This may happen intentionally or accidentally.
If we damage the habitats that zebra butterflies live in, we may harm these butterflies. Many things can damage a habitat. Sometimes construction projects, such as building a new hotel, damage the natural environments where animals live. Also, problems with pollution can damage habitats and kill animals. Dirty water or severe air pollution are just two examples of things that could damage the habitat of the zebra butterfly.
While zebra butterflies are not in danger today, we still need to be mindful about protecting these beautiful creatures. Aside from being pretty to look at, they play an important role in the local ecosystem. Hurting an ecosystem can have consequences for many other animals in that ecosystem or even for humans. How do you think you can help protect animals such as the zebra butterfly?