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A Study on the Correlation Between Average Seasonal Temperature and the Wing Size of the Pieris rapae butterfly.

The Pieris rapae or cabbage white butterfly is an invasive species that has been affecting American agriculture for more than a century. This butterfly nests in a specific plant family called Brassicaceae (the cabbage family), this family consists of broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and many other crops that the U.S relies on for food sources. It is important to know about these butterflies before thinking about possible mitigation or solutions. The optimal temperature for this species of butterfly is debated, and has been seen in many different locations across the world. However, most butterflies lie within the range of 82°-100°F. In this project, we investigated the effects seasonal temperature has on wing size. Wings are the butterflies most important feature, and are usually indicative of the overall health of the butterfly. Utilizing various softwares such as ImageJ, IDigBio, and GEOLocate we were able to pinpoint specific details such as the location the butterfly was found, time of capture, and size of wings. We collected an average wing size from roughly 1000 samples, gathering data such as temperature and location. We hypothesized that there will be a correlation between the seasonal temperature, and the wing size of the Pieris rapae butterfly. Additionally, we predict that Pieris rapae butterflies would have larger wings in locations with higher temperatures.

Ezra Heilmann '24, Brandon LaClair '24, Tim Polevoy '24
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