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Seasonal Effects on Pieris Rapae's Wing Melanization in Native and Invasive Populations

The Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) is found across the world however, their native population originates out of Europe. We will observe how Pieris rapae butterflies introduced to North America will respond seasonally in comparison to the native Pieris rapae European butterflies. There is currently little comparative research between native and invasive populations of Pieris rapae, therefore in this research we will study how seasonality affects the degree of melanization on the wing apex of native and invasive summer butterflies (July, August, September) compared to native and invasive spring (March, April, May) butterflies. It is shown that melanization is increased in colder temperatures compared to those in warmer temperatures. Our research is beneficial in piecing together the life history of Pieris rapae, its evolutionary capabilities, and if the invasive population experienced a bottleneck or founder effect when the native population emigrated. We expect that butterflies of the spring generations will have distinctly darker apex patches compared to those of the summer generations in North America compared to Europe.  We are using samples of Pieris rapae collected from and comparing them to gather accurate data and patterns relating to their melanization patterns. We will use the location, and date collected which will allow us to gather accurate information about the Pieris rapae during different seasons. By using iDigBio we can successfully sort and compare our information across the different populations of butterflies in both seasons. The distribution of the samples makes it so we have more accurate information of these butterflies to support our research.

Isabella Catao '24, Charlotte Haley '24
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