Do butterflies carry diseases?

Do butterflies carry diseases? This is a question that has plagued the minds of entomologists for decades. When you actually stop thinking about how many people handle a butterfly as a pet, it is easy to see why so many are curious about it.

Butterflies carry parasites (i.e., Ophryocystis elektroschirra) that cause diseases, but they do not carry diseases that can affect humans. Suppose you wonder whether they can be transmitted to humans; in that case, the answer is no. They only carry parasites that are most likely to affect monarch butterflies.

Diseases that can butterflies carry?

Some of the diseases that butterflies may carry include:

• Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever, Zika virus, and malaria. 

• Bird flu. 

• Encephalitis (a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain). 

• West Nile virus.

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What are Ophryocystis elektroschirra?

Insect parasites, such as ophryocystis elektroscirrha, can reduce the health of butterflies and other insects, which may affect the monarch’s ability to reproduce and their survival.

However, parasite predators or diseases in butterfly habitats usually won’t kill a whole population even though they could drastically hurt them if it happened during this period. This parasite could be transferred via various methods, including dust from clothing. These get into the spores of monarchs and infect them.

Does Ophryocystis elektroschirra kill Monarch butterflies?

The ophryocystis elektroscirrha spores are a fungus that can bring death to monarch caterpillars. The ophryocystis elektroscirrha spores can be found on milkweed leaves and spread by contact with adult butterflies or by licking contaminated surfaces such as cages, nets, or bulbs.

Do butterflies get affected by malaria? 

As we all know, malaria is a deadly disease that affects people, causing millions of infections and deaths. While malaria is so fatal, it is ruinous to humans and butterflies, especially to monarch butterflies.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite that gets transmitted to humans via mosquito bites. The parasite can be transmitted to other animals, especially insects like butterflies, and cause severe infections.

How is this parasite transmitted?

Scientists from the University of Georgia researched how these parasites get transferred. They discovered three methods that could transmit it. They made garden plots and planted tropical milkweed plants on which monarchs feed. They monitored these gardens to measure the OE prevalence and determine how these parasites are transferred.

When caterpillars feed the spores of this Milkweed plant, they infect monarchs. Transmission is also possible where infected female monarchs can pass it to their own offspring through spores shed onto their eggs.

When caterpillars confront OE spores that unrelated adult monarchs shed onto milkweed leaves, where the caterpillars feed, environmental transmission is passed down. Finally, uninfected adults can pass down spores through contact with infected adults, which don’t cause disease in the exposed adults but can affect a minor portion of their offspring through an adult spore transfer process.

To conclude, even though these butterflies carry diseases, their probability of affecting humans is very low. They only carry parasites that cause disease in them.

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