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Oleander, Daphnis Nerii and Potato Beetle


Oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows to about four feet high, originating from the Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia.
Latin name of the species is Nerium oleander.
As Greek word nerion means water or moisture, one can easily conclude that the oleander is species that requires a lot of water.

Oleander is, as one might say, toxically beautiful. This statement is correct when it comes to oleander because all its parts, especially leaves are toxic.
Their decorating value has been known for more than 2000 years. Oleander has decorated many royal palaces and homes since the 16th century.
Until today more than 400 varieties of oleander are developed, which differ in color, flower shape and height.
What makes oleander interesting is long and abundant flowering which begins in early summer, and extends deep into autumn.
The flowers can be simple or full and they come in various shades of white, red, yellow or pink.
In the vast majority of varieties, flowers have a gentle, intoxicating scent.


Oleander is sensitive to low temperatures, it can easily be frozen even after short-term frosts. Exposed to temperatures below -8 degrees over several days oleander will surely perish. Since it blooms in the summer from June to September, oleander is pruned in winter. Some gardeners cut it every year to forty inches, which is a drastically, but also effectively if the plant needs to be rejuvenate.


Daphnis nerii

The most beautiful butterfly on Earth, Daphnis nerii (formerly Deilephila nerii), known as the Oleander Hawk-moth Or Army Green Moth better known by its initial stage - caterpillar - who mostly feeds with oleander leaves.
Oleander (Nerium oleander) is one of the most toxic plants because its glycosides can kill all the animals except one. It is not hard to guess - Daphnis nerii.
This butterfly is one of the few insects that has seasonal migration.
In the adult stage, butterfly mostly occurs at dusk or dawn when it feeds on the nectar of various plant species. Its wingspan can be 9 to 11 inches, and the body is massive and spindly. Astonishingly colors that may vary from shades of green streaked with samples of blue to shades of green streaked with samples of purple and red hues give him a special aesthetic experience. These colors are actually cryptic colors - colors for camouflage and easier merging with the natural environment in order to avoid predators.


As being active only at dusk and dawn, the adult butterflies are resting during the day and trying to stay unnoticed. Special attention gets larvae of these butterflies, which have a completely different pace of life. They are mostly active during the day.
After hatchability their size is a few millimeters while later they grow up to 13 centimeters. They appear in shades of green and during the growth they are developing two blue spots on the front of the body. The specialty of these caterpillars is that they are mostly feeding with leaves of oleander. Oleander contains cardiac glycosides which act on the heart muscle, and can easily cause the arrhythmia and heart failure.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the young leaves, which contain the most active forms of poison. But that did not stop this kind of butterflies to develop methods that will easily absorb any toxic substances and by that ensure a smooth development in its most vulnerable stages of life. It is highly unlikely that predators will approach to this poisonous plant or try to consume insects which are full of toxins from plants.
It is interesting how the larvae initially feed on young leaves at the top of the plants and how they grow and get older they slowly descend toward the base of the plant and feed on older leaves until they form cocoons at the base of the plant.
After the transformation from cocoons, adult butterfly feeds on the nectar of other plants and seek for sexual partner to get successfully multiplied.


Colorado potato beetle

The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), also known as the Colorado beetle, the ten-striped spearman, the ten-lined potato beetle or the potato bug, is a major pest of potato crops. It is approximately 10 millimetres (0.39 in) long, with a bright yellow/orange body and five bold brown stripes along the length of each of its elytra.

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Colorado potato beetle females are very prolific; they can lay as many as 700 eggs. The eggs are yellow to orange, and are about 1 mm long. They are usually deposited in batches of about 30 on the underside of host leaves. Development of all life stages depends on temperature. After 5–15 days, the eggs hatch into reddish-brown larvae with humped backs and two rows of dark brown spots on either side. They feed on the leaves. One beetle consumes approximately 40 cm^2 of potato leaves at a larval stage, and up to additional 9 cm^2 of foliage per day as an adult.

Larva turns into adult



An important thing to keep in mind is that Colorado potato beetle has ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control.

Natural enemy of Colorado potato beetle is Oleander flower. My research was based on it's powerful poison. I put Oleander flower in a jar in order to see what could happen to these Colorado beetles.
There was also a potato leaf in a jar. I was expecting that they would eat that potato leaf but I was wrong, very wrong. They started to eat Oleander flower. Why? I don't know. Maybe they were attracted by Oleander scent or something else. That was a very confusing situation. After some time, I came back to see what had happened to potato beetles and I was shocked. They were all on the bottom of the jar, fully dead.

For the conclusion I think that Oleander tree could help against these potato beetles by it's powerful poison and that would be the most natural way to protect potatoes.
Oleander is a tree that everyone should plant in the area where there are potatoes. It could be a natural source to get rid off the potato beetle.


© 2016 Dream Lover


Aurora on April 02, 2020:

Amazing! I love everything that has connection with biology and nature.

James on December 08, 2019:

Exposed to temperatures below -8 degrees over several days oleander will surely perish. I didn't know this fact. This article is amazing!

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