“Nature’s Gallery of blue wonders – really true blue” part 2″

Nature’s blue wonders

The biggest and the loudest animal alive today is the Blue Whale.

This giant Blue Whale Balaenoptera musculus has a heart the size of a Volkswagon beetle car and weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kg). A full grown man could crawl through the aorta in this whale and its beating heart causes 14,00o

endangered blue whale

pounds (6,400 kg) of blood to circulate through its body. A adult man could crawl through the aorta (a major blood vessel).Endangered, this blue whale , the largest animal to ever live on Earth can grow to 94 feet (29 meters) in length and weigh more 174 tons, This baleen whale is a filter feeder. They live in family groups called pods.

Large Blues butterflies and red ants unusual partners for life.

As caterpillars the Big Blues Maculinea arion feed on wild thyme or marjoram flowers for the first few days to weeks of development. Once well fed, they drop to the ground and begin secreting sweet fluids to attract red ants Myrmica sabuleti. The ants carry the caterpillar back to their ant nest underground and stroked the caterpillar with its antennae.

Large Blue Butterfly

This stroking causes more sweet secretions to ooze from the caterpillar’s body to feed the ants. This process continues until the Large Blue raises its body half way off the ground. This signals the ants to stop feeding and carry the Large Blue to its winter resting quarters in the ants’ tunnel.

After hibernation is over in spring, the caterpillars will then begin to eat the red ant’s eggs and larvae for up to 3 weeks. It will then hang itself by its legs on the ant nest’s roof and spin a chrysalis around itself. The caterpillar will spend a further 3 weeks transforming into the Large Blue butterfly adult.

When it emerges as a butterfly, red ants will escort the newly emerged butterfly to the surface, taking it to a low plant or shrub nearby. The red ants will encircle the butterfly and ward off any predators that attempt to attack the butterfly as it dries out. After the butterfly is ready to fly away, the ants will return to their nest. For more unusual factoid about the Large Blue Butterflies click here.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Bluewhale.shtml

Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Blue_(butterfly)

Image courtesy of http://www.thetechherald.com/media/images/200922/800pxBlueWhaleWithCalf_1.jpg

Image courtesy of http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2009/06/090615185420-large.jpg

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