Altai State University entomologists recorded a unique phenomenon for Western Siberia - the July butterflies fly in May

5 June 2020 Department of Information and Media Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology and the South Siberian Botanical Garden of Altai State University summarize one of the first field work since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor of the Department of Ecology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Roman Yakovlev, employee of the South Siberian Botanical Garden, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Petr Kosachev and student of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology, Valentin Rudoi returned from a scientific expedition to the south of Altai Krai.

The scientists of the flagship university visited Altai, Soloneshensky, Charyshsky, Kuryinsky and Loktevsky districts of the region with the aim of collecting material on some types of plants and insects.

“My colleague Petr Kosachev collected various species of plants of the Veronica genus for molecular research, and my task, as an entomologist, was to collect insects. My student Valentin Rudoi and I managed to collect rich material, but not peculiar to this time of year. We were on an expedition in late May and witnessed how the world of insects reacted to this year’s extremely unusual weather, with early spring and summer. For example, we saw in mass those species of butterflies that in ordinary years are found in late June - July. It goes ahead of the phenological development  a month or even more. And this is not just one or two, but several dozen species of insects. This is perhaps a unique phenomenon for Western Siberia!" emphasized Roman Yakovlev.

Among those that appeared earlier than usual, scientists, in particular, noted butterflies of the genus Arginnis - high brown fritillary (Fabriciana adippe), Melanargia russiae, several summer species of lycaenidae and many others, which, as a rule, fly in the 20th of June, or even the first decade of July. The AltSU  entomologist suggests that by August, if the weather keeps being warm, some species of butterflies can give a second generation in a year.

“For 150 years of butterfly research in Western Siberia, nothing like this has ever happened that most of the July species appeared already in May. This is a unique year in many ways! ” - assures Roman Yakovlev.

The scientist also added that during the expedition, which took place mostly in the territory of the south of Altai, which has been little studied by entomologists, they were able to find several red-book species of butterflies, which will give a more accurate picture of the distribution of rare and endangered insect species in Altai Krai.

AltSU scientists plan to combine the results of their research with the data obtained by colleagues from Omsk, Kemerovo and Novosibirsk, and publish material dedicated to the changes in nature occurring in 2020.

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