Results of schoolchildren's observations of insects under the guidance of scientists from Altai State University

17 November 2020 Press Centre IBB

The team of young researchers Sodruzhestvo at the Berezovskaya school has been observing and monitoring Red Book species in the Charysh region for seven years. During this time, we managed to identify new spots of finding rare species of plants and animals in our area, to observe the dynamics of the influence of climatic conditions and human activities on them.

According to our observations, the spring of 2020 was very early and warm in comparison with previous years. Apparently, this is one of the reasons that this year led to a change in biological rhythms not only in plants, but also in insects. Comparing the emergence of an imago (as entomologists call an adult) of a rare butterfly Apollo vulgaris included in the Red Book, we observed the following changes: the emergence of imago in 2017 began on June 23, in 2018 on July 1, in 2019 on June 28, and in 2020 year on June 12.

At the same time, the vegetative growth of plants slowed down in June this year. This led to the fact that, having flown out earlier than usual, the Apollo could not find the plants habitual for feeding. Therefore, until about the end of June, insects could be observed in the front gardens of the village of Mallorca, which is not typical of them. In the flower garden on the personal courtyard of the Head of the school team, rare butterflies kept on the flowers of soapwort and fuopsis. With the beginning of flowering of oregano, thistle and pale yellow scabiosa, they were not visible. These data formed the basis for the work of Ekaterina Chukhriy, a student of grade 8 - "Some biological and morphological features of the population of Apollo vulgaris in the vicinity of the village of Mallorca, Altai Krai".

The timing of development has also shifted for another rare butterfly - Apollo Ariadne. Its departure in 2020 moved only 5-6 days compared to last year (May 8 and May 12, respectively), but neither June 15, nor the rest of June, adults were no longer observed, although in 2018 and 2019 butterflies can was observed until the end of the first summer month.

This year, information about the meeting places near the village of Mallorca of another endangered species of insects, the jaundice of Aurora, has been replenished. In 2018 and 2019, young naturalists observed the butterfly only in the Mallorca River valley near Mount Kazachka. In 2020, schoolchildren also spotted it on Mount Kudyarikha and in the valley of the Buchilny stream. In addition, new habitats have also been identified for the Fryvaldsky’s hairstreak butterfly.
Another interesting finding was a rather rare moth – the garden tiger moth. The children found it near the porch of a school in the village of Berezovka. The porch is illuminated at night and, apparently, the light attracted this rare and amazing insect.

Among the Hymenoptera, young researchers have recorded the presence of a carpenter bee in Mallorca. However, it has not yet been possible to find the nest, but insects flying in search of food got into the lenses of schoolchildren's cameras.

Among the observations of 2020, a small discovery was especially memorable. Within the framework of the project “Practical Science for Schoolchildren. University Level", supported by a presidential grant, experts from the Adopt a Wildlife Sanctuary regional program and teachers from the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University came to visit us. We showed specialists the nature of the Charysh region, and they conducted mini-expeditions and educational excursions for us. During one of them, a memorable event happened: that day there was a gusty wind and it was difficult to find insects, the animals were inactive and hid in shelters; what was the surprise of the experts and the schoolchildren themselves, when suddenly one of the guys - Zakhar Sinelnikov caught a motley askalaf on the slope of the mountain - a representative of the Bulavouski family. The insect was photographed, well examined and released. In the Red Book of Altai Krai it is indicated that the habitat of the askalaf is known for the Charysh region, however, we first observed this beautiful insect in our patronized territory and were very happy with such an inhabitant!

Our team regularly submits all information about the occurrence of rare species from the Red Book to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Altai Territory. Many of our findings can be seen on the pages of the regional Red Book and in the Bulletins, which annually since 2017 summarize valuable information about  findings from the world of wildlife. We encourage all nature lovers to share this information with experts. After all, such simple actions of each person help to save rare species and their habitats, which means to  preserve the corners of the wild nature of our small Motherland!

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