Wing Deformities in Monarch Butterflies in New Zealand: The Role of a Parasite and the Climate
journal contributionposted on 15.06.2022, 20:28 by Mariana BulgarellaMariana Bulgarella, Philip LesterPhilip Lester
Monarch butterflies can be infected by a parasite called OE. Butterflies with OE may not complete their development or, if they do, the adult butterflies might have deformed wings. We found that the proportion of adult butterflies with wing deformities increased further south in New Zealand, where the weather is colder. In contrast, the number of butterflies infected with the OE parasite decreased further to the south. No OE was observed in butterflies from the coldest, southernmost location of Dunedin, while all butterfly samples from the warmest, northernmost site at the top of the North Island were infected. The OE parasite seems to vary on a north-south gradient, with more OE in the north and less in the south. Our analysis showed that being parasitised by OE did not mean butterflies were more likely to have wing deformities. We think that the colder temperatures in the south of the country limit the development of the OE parasite and independently cause the wing deformities seen in the adult butterflies.