2007/07/13

Blue Moon on the Rise

The Blue Moon butterfly is native to Australia and can be found on islands across the South Pacific. I delight in seeing them on Taveuni, with their black wings and white spots with an iridescent blue border around them. Seen at dusk, the spots appear to glow due to the contrasts. They are fairly large with a wingspan of about 100 mm (4 inches).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In some areas, a bacteria has been killing off the male population for some time. The Wolbachia bacteria is passed down from the mother and selectively kills males before they have a chance to hatch.

But now the males are making a comeback. An international team of scientists who have been studying the species, say it is due to the rise of a gene the butterflies now have which makes them resistant to the bacteria. Last year, on the Samoan islands of Upolu and Savaii, the males went from just 1 percent of the Blue Moon butterfly population to 39 percent in just ten generations and less than a year due to the gene. They confirmed that the bacteria is still present, but the gene suppresses it. It is the fastest known example of natural selection at work.

A full article is linked to the title above. The scientist's reported their findings in the journal "Science".

2 comments:

Don Snabulus said...

Pat Robertson's God is very upset about that. :D

Go Blue Moons!

Pandabonium said...

The Flying Spaghetti Monster strikes again.