From time immemorial butterflies have always been associated with beauty. This has even made people to set up parks where butterflies are reared; where people visit to marvel at the beauty of butterflies. We have also seen many business ventures and even various work equipments bearing the name butterfly. This shows how much the butterfly is a valued being.
This value however is not applicable to an agribusiness farmer. Why is that so? To answer this we have to study the life cycle of a butterfly. From science we are told that it undergoes a complete metamorphosis; Egg-Larvae-Pupa-Adult. It belongs to the order Lepidoptera of the class insect. Lepidoptera usually comprise of moths and butterflies. There are so many different types of moths and butterflies. It is important to note the in the life cycle, the butterfly/moth is what we refer to as the adult. The adult has minimal damage on crops. The adult lays several eggs that develop to larvae. This is the most destructive stage of the insect. We usually refer to it as caterpillar. This takes different forms and sizes. This gives rise to the different form of damage caused to the crop. We say that caterpillars cause damage by biting and chewing. Some will even do what we refer to as leaf mining where they feed from inside the leaf causing mines. To identify damages caused by larvae(caterpillar) we usually look for holes or chewed parts of a leaf, on the fruits there might be holes that show the entry point of the insect into the fruit, some of the produce may rot since the faecal material left by the insect plus the openings expose the produce to secondary infections. All these bring a loss to the farmer since the quantity and quality of crop is greatly affected.
A new pest that has been affecting farmers of late is the Tuta absoluta. This pest is a special type of leaf miner and is able to damage various parts of the crop including leaves, flowers, stalk and the fruit. It has greatly affected tomato crop farming and also other crops in the family Solanaceae.
After this stage of larvae the insect goes through the third stage called pupa. This is an inactive stage that doesn’t cause any damage to crops. The insects develop in a cocoon where it grows wings and other parts. This stage may take place in the soil or hidden parts of the crop. After this the insect emerges as an adult; which is a beautiful butterfly or a moth.
This marks the fourth stage of the cycle. The cycle continues and over and over again. It is also important to note that increase in temperatures makes the cycles to take a shorter time thus giving rise to a very high population of the insect.
Now I hope we understand why we should always smile and rejoice as we watch butterflies and moths fly all over our farms.