Butterflies, alone, re-evaluate and make more appreciable the whole immense class of insects to which they too belong. We smile when we meet a butterfly, it is beautiful, the colors organized in perfect symmetries make it look like a flying flower. Its nature is ephemeral, however its short life is fully dedicated to a fundamental function for our ecosystem, it is a pollinator, often a single species of this fabulous diurnal moth is "specialized" in a single botanical species, that is it sucks the nectar from a single type of flower.
The complex metamorphosis that from the hatching of the microscopic egg gradually transforms a crawling caterpillar into an enchanting winged being makes it a living metaphor of renewal, a symbol of evolution and for this reason the butterfly is linked to countless legends over the entire surface of the globe, to stories of fragility e wisdom, of spiritual elevations or connections with the beloved souls of the afterlife.
THEElba island, not surprisingly the seat of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, represents for butterflies and entomologists who in recent years have intensified their studies on the territory, an authentic earthly paradise of biodiversity.
Living on an island is not easy even for humans, but it is even less so for animals who do not have the opportunity to leave it either swimming or flying. These animals, usually insects but also small birds or in any case beings who live in airs restricted (the phenomenon occurs similarly for many plants), to avoid the weakening and subsequent extinction caused by a lack of relationships with other subjects of the same species, are forced to implement survival strategies that are in tune with the environment in which they are found, they change their genetic patrimony to make them absolutely separate species with respect to the original one.
In order to survive, many Elba butterflies have undergone this type of mutation over time, thus becoming "endemisms": one for all, the beautiful Zerynthia cassandra, studied by a team of German scientists in 1934 and then considered extinct, was re-identified in 2018. A small and precious population of this unique and colorful insect lives in a specific location, just 2 square km of low and frequent scrub outcrops of granite boulders in the southwest of the island. There is a very specific reason that determined the choice of this area and not another; this is the only place where the Aristolochia rotunta grows, the only flower that our fascinating “specialized” moth feeds on.
Other oddities, unique and particular cases such as a small colored butterfly common in Italy but absolutely absent on all the islands except Elba or the very rare and evocative Vanessa , believed extinct for more than a century and reappeared two years ago, they can be admired for very short periods of the year, al Butterfly Sanctuary, a trekking route of approx. 5 km. at an altitude of 800 where, between breathtaking views and wild nature, more than 40 different species live, including various types of endemics and other rarities.
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