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The Danaidae are a group of butterflies that are also called milkweed butterflies (becasue the milkweed is their larval host plant). The Danaidae used to be considered a family of butterflies, but is now thought of as a subfamily of the family Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies) [reference: Layberry, Ross A. et al., Butterflies of Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1998]. The monarch is a type of Danaidae butterfly.
Deciduous plants lose their leaves at the end of each growing season.
Decomposers are organisms like fungi and bacteria that break down and then eat the remains of organisms.
Decomposition is the decay or breakdown of things into more basic elements. For example, after a plant dies, it decomposes into organic nutrients.
A detrivore (or detritus feeder) is an organism that eats the dead remains of other organisms (detritus). Examples of detrivores include crabs, flies, vultures, and hyenas. Only a few butterflies are detrivores.
The Diana Fritillary butterfly, Speyeria diana, is a butterfly that lives in fields and mountain forests in parts of the eastern USA. It has rounded wing and a 3 7/16 - 4 7/16 inch (8.7 - 11.3 cm) wingspan. Females are black and blue; males and brown/black and orange. Adults sip rotting dung and flower nectar from milkweed, ironweed, red clover, and butterflybush. The caterpillar is mostly black with many orange and black spikes; the head is orange on the top. The larval host plant is violets. Classification: family Nymphalidae, genus Speyeria, species S. diana.
Diapause is a period of suspended growth or development in the life of some insects, mites, snails and crustaceans. Butterflies and moths enter diapause when the weather is too severe or food or water is unavailable.
A dichotomous key is a method for determining the identity of sometihing (like a butterfly, a plant, or a rock) by going through a series of choices that lead the user to the correct name of the item. At each step of the process, the user is given two choices; each alternative leads to another questions until the identification is completed. For example, a question in a dichotomous key for trees might be something like, "Does it have flat or needle-like leaves?" Dichotomous means "divided in two parts".
Dragonflies are primitive, flying insects that can hover in the air. They evolved during the Mississippian Period, about 360-325 mya. Huge dragonflies with wingspans up to 27.5 inches (70 cm) existed during the Mesozoic Era (when the dinosaurs lived). Dragonfiles are not butterflies
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