Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Swallowtail Solar Collectors

The Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are here, in force.  They take their name from the long extensions on the tail of the wing, reminiscent of the wings of the swallows we see everywhere right now as well.

Since all these lovely flutterbys eat is nectar, they have been thick on the apple, cherry and lilac trees.

They only live a month or two before laying their eggs. There will be two generations up here in the North -- in the south, they can go one more for three.  Tiger swallowtails overwinter in the larva or chrysalis stage, hatching in late May.

Their primary predator, besides the windshields and grills of automobiles, are yellowjackets, which eat the butterflies when the butterflies are in caterpillar form

While these vivid yellow and black tiger swallowtails are the most prevalent, especially at this time of year, we also can entertain the Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Swallowtails are interesting -- and like all the fellow creatures on our planet, a little surprising.  People don't consider them enough, watching them flit from blossom to blossom, but swallowtail butterflies have some pretty funky adaptations.

The caterpillars, for example, are a fairly boring green, that looks a little like a tiny snake.  That's done on purpose. And if you pester one (and look like you plan to eat it), the little guy will rear up, and stick out his best defense mechanism: this is a fleshy Y-shaped organ called and osmeterium.  It looks like the forked tongue of a snake, and thanks to the caterpillars propensity to dine on members of the carrot family, it comes complete with a pretty foul odour (if you are close enough, which people rarely are, so be not alarmed)  The idea is to make the predator (usually a bird, or a yellowjacket hornet, think twice about tackling this fearsome beast.

Those intensely dark black scales on teh wings, they're pretty funky too. They reflect virtually no sunlight -- perhaps an adaptation to help regulate body temperature.  Engineers, trying to save the planet, get all tingly about this:  the flat scale and its ability to absorb solar energy, make it ideal for solar cells.  In 2009 a team of researchers created a titanium dioxide cast of the wing scales that improved the power output of solar cells by 10%.  They hope to have a version ready for commercial use within five years.

So, that old saw that if a butterfly fans its wings in Brazil, we feel the effect in the wind in Labrador... it's true.

If you find yourself indoors with nothing to do and kids to entertain, you can try your hand at folding an origami swallowtail butterfly

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