No doubt, butterflies are among nature’s true masterpieces. These winged beauties immediately draw the attention of anyone who witnesses them.
Among 17,500 species, over 750 types of butterflies are native to the United States. Hence, describing all of these species isn’t possible. However, we have listed here the most popular butterfly species.
These species relate to a family of butterflies known as the Nymphalidae. These butterflies are also popular as “Four-Footed Butterflies”. The reason being is the fact that they only have four functional legs.
The length of their wingspan is between 1.5 to 3.5 inches. It is known to be the largest family of butterflies with over 6000 species. The most regularly seen colors of these butterflies include yellow, brown, and white.
They vary in size ranging from medium to large. They can stand only on their four out of six legs. The remaining two legs stay curled up. The brush-footed butterfly can make a hissing sound after sensing a nearby danger.
American Snout Butterfly
The American Snout butterfly is also known as the snout butterfly. It belongs to the sub-family “Libytheinae”, which relates to the family Nymphalidae.
These butterflies are common in North and South America. The name snout butterfly refers to its long snouts. It has a wingspan ranging from 3.5 to 5 cm.
The palms with a snout-like structure are usually extended to the front. American Snout butterflies are relatively small and come in dull or less vibrant colors.
The upper area of their wings has a brownish-black color. There are some orange patches too. The hind wings have a purple-gray shade.
The elongated snout looks fascinating. Most people do inquire about its purpose. According to some researchers, this long snout helps these butterflies to camouflage.
These butterflies appear to be dry leaves, which assists in avoiding predators. Even butterfly enthusiasts can’t locate them easily due to their long snouts and cryptically colored wings.
Swallowtail butterflies also have a large family (Papilionidae) consisting of more than 500 species. These butterflies are extremely large and colorful too.
They are among the most widespread species. Hence, they are available in almost every continent excluding Antarctica. These Swallowtail butterflies gained this name due to their hindwing extensions, which look like a tail.
Nevertheless, this tail-like structure isn’t available in some of their species. The length of their wingspan ranges from 8 to 90 mm.
Generally, these butterflies love to thrive in temperate and tropical habitats. Some of their species are also living in sub-tropical regions such as Southeast and East Asia.
Talking about the colors, these butterflies are available in various attractive colors. These colors range from yellow, red, green, and orange. The blue, green, and black colors serve as a vivid background.
Milk parsley is the sole diet of these butterflies. However, some of their species also feed on wild carrots. They occasionally migrate to grasslands near the south coast of England.
Sleepy Orange Butterfly
This North American native butterfly comes from a family named Pieridae. Coliadinae is the sub-family of Sleepy Orange butterflies.
These species are in abundance in the regions like West Indies and Costa Rica. The habitat includes swamps, roadsides, wet meadows, open woodlands, wood edges, waterways, and valleys.
The name “Sleepy Orange” comes from the bright orange color of this butterfly. The underside color of this butterfly varies depending on the seasons.
During summer, the orange color turns into a bright yellow color. The red markings also start to appear. On the other hand, the wings turn brown during the winter season.
Most of the people are interested in their name “Sleepy Orange”. There is a widespread theory that the narrow black spot located on the forewing appears to be closed eyes. Hence, the word “Sleepy” joins the name.
The 35 to 57 mm wingspan adds more beauty to the overall appearance of these butterflies. Sleepy orange butterflies are normally found in tropical areas. They are spotted all year-round.
Creamy Marblewing Butterfly
This particular butterfly is often referred to as the “Large Marble”. The prime reason for this nickname is the fact that these are the largest among other butterflies of this species. This is another western species. Its major population is found in northern New Mexico and stretches to South Alaska. The lower side of the wings has marbled greenish and cream colors.
The tips and edges of their wings have black markings. The most noticeable characteristic of this butterfly is the presence of furry scales on its head. The round eyes also have a bright green color.
Small Copper Butterfly
Also known as “Fat Flying Insect”, the Small Copper butterfly is a beautiful creature. Their vibrant forewings come in copper color. The major population of this butterfly is living in the UK and Ireland.
It has a wingspan that ranges from 32 to 35 mm. The upper part of their wing has a bright and shiny yellow color. The margins are brown with black spots.
The lower side of the wings has a bright orange color with black spots. The margins also have reddish stripes. The major habitats include dry slopes and rocky outcrops.
As the name suggests, these are the king of all butterflies. Monarch butterflies are the most beautiful of all the species. Their distinctive color combination makes them easy to identify.
The stunning color combination includes black, orange, and white. The markings also have vibrant colors. The black veins and white dots also add more flare to the overall appearance.
These butterflies are common in areas like South America, North America, and Central America. They are also found in other regions like Western Europe, India, and Australia.
The wingspan of an adult monarch butterfly can be as long as 5 inches. On average, the wings can be 4 inches wide.
The upper area of the wings has a tawny orange color. The black margins white spots also look gorgeous. At the beginning of migration, the shape and color of these butterflies start to change.
After a few months, the wings become elongated. The color of these wings also changes to deep red. These butterflies give birth to four generations in a year.
Red Admiral Butterfly
This is another famous butterfly, which is known for its strong flying ability. When compared to the species that we usually observe in parks and gardens, the Red Admiral butterfly appears to be a large species.
These butterflies are highly distinctive, as they mainly come from Britain and Ireland. They belong to the Nymphalids family. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 67 to 72 mm.
These are the well-characterized and medium-sized butterflies. They are popular for their black color. Besides, the orange bands and white wings give a distinctive look to these butterflies.
Red Admiral butterflies are normally found in warmer areas. Nevertheless, they also migrate to the northern areas during the autumn and spring seasons.
The most interesting fact about these butterflies is their ability to guard territory. They possess incredible territorial habits. The female species will only mate with those males, which hold their territory.
In addition, they also display irregular and erratic flights. The males normally wait for the female butterflies at the highest available ridge. Later on, the female will lay her eggs at the mating location.
The habitats of this particular butterfly include moist woods, yards, marshes, moist fields, parks, and fields. They can be spotted in all types of habitats ranging from tundra to sub-tropics.
Karner Blue Butterfly
It is a delicate and small butterfly. It was initially listed as the endangered sub-species of the small blue butterfly. Previously, the Karner blue butterflies were found in abundance in the northern areas of blue lupine.
This particular range starts from Southern Maine and stretches to Eastern Minnesota. In the present era, these species are found in a few areas of central and western Wisconsin. Some of them are also found in selected areas of western Michigan.
These butterflies are reasonably small. Their wingspan can be no more than one inch. The male and female Karner Blue butterflies have different colors.
The females have a grayish-brown color with small blue spots in the upper area. Besides, the male Karner Blue has dark blue or silvery topside. The narrow black margins also look graceful.
Blue Morpho Butterfly
The Blue Morpho butterfly has a vibrant blue color. The edges are jet black. These are among the largest butterflies. Their wingspan can range from 5-8 inches approx.
The Blue Morpho butterflies contain microscopic scales at the backside of the wings. These scales reflect the light. This gives them a sparkling blue appearance.
On the other hand, the lower side of the wings is quite dull. However, the presence of pale brown color assists them while they camouflage to avoid predators.
These butterflies are found in tropical forests of different regions including Latin America, Mexico, and Columbia. The adults are normally roaming close to the forest floor. They prefer to reside in small trees and shrubs.
These butterflies have a dual mechanism for tasting their diet. Apart from tasting with the sensors on their feet, these butterflies can also smell and taste their food with the air around their antennae.
American Painted Lady Butterfly
Also referred to as American Lady, these butterflies are the largest species in Northern America. Apart from being famous for their attractive appearance, they are also known for the nests made by their caterpillars.
These nests are masterpieces and only the caterpillars of this species are skilled enough for making them. A few of the species are native to Southern Canada. These butterflies are also found in Europe.
The wingspan covers an area of 1.75 to 2.40 inches. The colors of their wings include a mixture of orange and brown. The upper surface comes with black margins. The front side also contains white spots.
Normally, the habitat of these butterflies includes those places that are open and have less vegetation. Hence, they are commonly found in areas such as dunes, forest edges, and meadows.
Mourning Cloak Butterfly
These species belong to the Nymphalidae family. It is found in New Hampshire and North America. A few of its species tend to reside in Florida as well as in the Gulf states.
The habitat of a Mourning Cloak butterfly consists of open woodlands, forest borders, sunny glades, grooves, parks, and gardens. These butterflies have a wingspan that can grow up to 3.3 inches.
They have a stunning maroon or red color. The margins are creamy yellow, which are also reflective. After becoming a fully grown adult, these butterflies can also develop different markings.
European Skipper Butterfly
This particular butterfly relates to the family Hesperiidae. The sub-family of the European Skipper butterfly is Hesperiinae. “Essex Skipper” is another common name for this species.
The length of their wingspan can reach up to 2.9 cm. They apparently seem identical to small skipper butterflies. However, there is one feature that creates a distinction between these two.
This relates to the color of their antennae. The antennae of a European Skipper butterfly is dark black. On the contrary, the antennae of smaller skipper have vivid orange color.
The wings have an orange color with delicate black margins. There are also some white spots in both the upper and lower areas of the wings.
These butterflies are native to Southern Scandinavia. At present, they can be found anywhere throughout Europe, North Africa, and central Asia.
Types of Butterflies Depending on Their Habitat
Usually, butterflies are categorized depending on their species, and families. However, here, we have separated the different species of butterflies depending on their habitats.
So, let’s see what we got here.
These butterflies are normally more colorful than other species. This is so, as they have access to numerous types of food sources. This kind of habitat contains the most species of butterflies. Some of them are discussed below.
Map Butterfly: These butterflies have an orange color in spring. However, the color changes to black in the summer season. Image:
Pine Butterfly: This type of butterfly has a beautiful white color with black veins. The wing bars are also black. Picture:
Acadian Hairstreak: The lower side of this butterfly is gray. In addition, the upper side contains a brown-gray color. The hindwings also contain a small tail. Photo:
Comma Butterfly: The underwings of this butterfly have a mottled brown color along with white marks. These marks are identical to a comma, which gives them the name “Comma Butterfly”. The upper areas of their wings contain a combination of brown and orange colors.
These are the butterflies, which are commonly found in the grasslands and meadows. They have bright colors and are attracted to a wide range of flowers that are native to grasslands.
Below are some of the most common types of these butterflies.
Crescentspot: These butterflies have brown and red wings. The wings also contain white spots that are similar to a crescent.
Viceroy: It is a species, which shows patterns identical to a monarch butterfly. These butterflies have a dark orange color. Besides, the black veins give them a distinctive look. There are numerous white spots at the edges of their wings.
Monarchs: These butterflies have a reddish-orange color. They also have black veins. The wings have a black border with some white spots.
Coastal butterflies are generally found in coastal regions, canals, and salt marshes. Some popular species of these types of butterflies are listed as under.
Green Hairstreak: These are small butterflies. They are so rare that you can only witness them in regions like Golden Gate Heights, San Francisco, and Presidio’s coastal bluffs. These are their original habitats.
Red Admiral: You can easily distinguish these butterflies due to their black forewings. These wings are also marked with white spots and red bars and.
Sleepy Orange butterfly: The upper side of the wings has a bright orange color. The black borders give them a distinctive look. The hindwings have a deep butter color during summer. In the colder months, their color might range from brick red to dark brown.
The cold nights and short summers of mountain areas make it difficult for the butterflies to survive. However, a wide range of butterflies does exist in mountain ranges.
These butterflies have dark colors. This allows them to absorb the maximum heat of the sun. They have long and hairy scales, which helps them to retain the body heat for maximum time.
Below are a few of the species that live in the mountains.
Piedmont Ringlet: These butterflies have different colors that range from dark brown to black. They also have red bands at the upper wings.
Creamy Marblewing: This butterfly is a small species having a one-inch wingspan. The underside of this species has two major colors i.e. green and marbled cream.
Moorland Clouded Yellow: These butterflies are available in two different colors including pale yellow and lemon yellow. The upper side of the wings also contains black borders.
Arctic Fritillary: This butterfly has a distinctive dark orange color. There are chevron markings and black spots at the upper side of their wings.
Northern Blue: The upper side of the male’s wings is iridescent blue. On the contrary, the upper side of a female upperside has brown color with orange spots.
Endangered Species of Butterflies
Normally, butterflies rely on suitable habitats for their survival. Within a couple of decades, environmental changes have also destroyed the major habitats of butterflies.
The biggest cause of destruction is the changes made to these habitats by humans. The Californian Xerces Blue butterfly was last observed in the nearby areas of San Francisco in 1941. Hence, we presume that this type of butterfly is now extinct.
In the early 1800s, the Large Copper butterfly also became extinct. Once a particular species of butterfly is extinct, it’s gone forever.
Some other endangered species of butterflies include:
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing
This type of butterfly owns an amazingly huge wingspan that can be as wide as one foot. It is the world’s largest butterfly that is still alive. However, it is found only in New Guinea rainforests.
Apart from its size, this particular butterfly is extremely beautiful. Talking about its colors, Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing comes in different stunning colors. These include neon green, aquamarine, and brown color.
The brown wings also have yellow spots to give these butterflies a distinctive appearance. Since these butterflies are rarely sighted, they are included in the list of endangered species.
This is another large-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 2.5 to 4 inches. They usually have green wings with black, blue, and yellow bands. This is why they are referred to as the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.
These are scarcely found in the selected areas of Florida and Texas. Hence, these butterflies are listed on the list of endangered species.
The brightly colored wings of a butterfly look simply stunning. Besides their elegance and aesthetic elements, butterflies are extremely fragile.
Classification of Butterfly
Key Features of a Butterfly
The word Lepidoptera means “scaled wings”. This term usually refers to moths and butterflies. Both these types of species are insects as well as arthropods. Hence, they are included in the order Lepidoptera. Some of the prominent features of butterfly include:
- 4 large and attractive wings
- Presence of scales on their wings
- Mouthparts for sucking liquid diet
- Main body consists of head, abdomen, and thorax
- Butterflies have one exoskeleton and two antennae
- Huge compound eyes
- Like most other insects, a butterfly has six legs
Origin and Evolution of Butterflies
We seek our knowledge about the origin of a butterfly by analyzing the traits and features of present era’s species. Besides, the fossil record also helps us while learning about the evolution of this creature.
The fossil study indicates that butterflies used to exist over 40-million years ago. The Prodryas persophone is an insect of that period, which has features similar to a modern-day butterfly.
Another opinion about the origin of butterflies relates to the Cretaceous Period. Scientists do believe that the association between plants and butterflies was developed during this particular period.
The Cretaceous Period is known as the “Age of Flowering Plants” (65 million to 135 million years ago). This was the time when dinosaurs were still alive.
The evolution of different species and their relationships with each other isn’t well researched. Hence, we know little about the evolution of butterflies.
In fact, butterflies don’t relate to Lepidoptera as far as their evolution is concerned. According to a recent theory, butterflies might have evolved from a moth family known as “Hedylidae”.
These species appear to be the closest relatives of the modern age butterflies. Hence, this theory suggests that butterflies are vividly colored moths.
Lifecycle of a Butterfly
During its lifecycle, a butterfly passes through a process known as metamorphosis. This process consists of four different stages. These are:
First Stage: Egg
This stage starts with an egg. The female butterfly lays extremely tiny eggs. Depending on the species, these eggs may have different colors and shapes.
Normally, a female butterfly selects plant stems or leaves for attaching her eggs. This is so, as the larvae can easily find food after they hatch.
Second Stage: Larva
The second stage involves the hatching of a Larva. It is also referred to as a caterpillar. Larvae do have various pairs of false legs. However, in some cases, the larvae also possess numerous pairs of true legs.
The main objective of a caterpillar/larva is to eat as much as possible. They continue to eat whether it’s day or night. With a constant supply of nutrients, the body of a larva grows at a rapid pace.
Nevertheless, the exoskeleton or hard outer shell doesn’t grow. In fact, the larva replaces the old exoskeleton with a new one. This process of shedding is known as molting. A larva may shed its exoskeleton four to five times.
Third Stage: Pupa
The Pupa is a cocoon or chrysalis of the caterpillar. It is a kind of hard sleeping bag that composes of a larva’s body. In order to make this hardened shell, the larva or caterpillar anchors itself to a twig or leaf with help of ‘Cremasters’.
Some of the caterpillars secrete a sticky substance from their mouth. They use this substance to keep their chrysalis or cocoon attached to the leaf or any other part of a plant.
During this stage, the pupa continues to hang upside down. Even the pupa looks like a stationary or nonliving thing, there is a lot going on inside the hard shell.
The pupa is preparing for its final transition. Since the caterpillar had eaten so much, it starts to release digestive enzymes. With this, the breaking down of the muscles and tissue begins.
The destroyed cells or body parts turn into a semi-liquid substance known as caterpillar soup. After that, a few cell groups outlast the others. This process actually starts when the caterpillar is still feeding on the green leaves.
At that time, the caterpillar starts to develop its specialized cells. During the third stage, a specific enzyme ecdysone allows these cells to start their growth.
As a result, different parts of a butterfly start to develop. These include legs, eyes, abdomen, thorax, head, and more.
Finale Stage: Adult Butterfly
This is the final stage of a butterfly’s lifecycle. The emergence of a butterfly from its cocoon is another process controlled by hormones. After being completely formed, a butterfly will release certain hormones.
As a result, the outer shell starts to soften, which allows the butterfly to move its limbs. In most cases, the shell will turn transparent. After that, the butterfly will start to break it down.
It inhales air and expands wings to build pressure. In some cases, the butterfly also uses its legs to push through the shell. Once out, it continues to hang on the shell. During this time, it waits for the wings to dry.
In the end, a butterfly starts to flap its wings. After practicing for a while, the butterfly takes its first flight.
Life of a Butterfly
Butterflies spend most of their time while performing different activities. These include feeding, basking, puddling, mating, and migration.
Below, we have independently explained each of these activities.
An adult butterfly doesn’t eat, as it only drinks the liquid diet. They are actually selective about their diet. These insects roam from one plant to another in search of nectar.
Butterflies make use of their proboscis when sucking the nectar out of a flower. Proboscis consists of a tube-like structure. It usually stays in a coiled position. Butterfly uncoils the proboscis to take a sip and coils it up again.
They may also feed on the liquid seeping out of rotten or cracked fruits. Butterflies do like sunny places, as they can find plenty of vegetation and flowers. This also helps them to avoid predators by taking shelter in the bushes.
Basking in the Sunlight
Since butterflies are cold-blooded animals, it’s not possible for them to maintain their body temperature. Hence, their body temperature continues to change with reference to their surroundings.
When the temperature drops too low, butterflies can’t fly. They need to warm up their body and revive the elasticity of the muscles.
The perfect temperature for butterflies is between 82° to 100° F. If the temperature is low, they will locate a leaf, rock, or sand with sufficient sunlight.
Once at the right spot, butterflies will start to bask in the sun by spreading their wings. This helps them to soak maximum sunlight to raise their body temperature.
Fighting the Heat
During hot summer afternoons, the butterflies will prefer to find some shade and rest at some cooler places like puddles. A few species also gather around puddles or wet areas to sip the water that is rich in minerals.
Generally, males actively take part in this activity as compared to females. It is also believed that the nutrient-rich water of a puddle plays a key role during mating.
Perching and Patrolling
Perching and patrolling are two of the ways a male butterfly uses to find a female for mating. The first one is perching. During this method, a male perches on a plant where females are in abundance.
Upon finding a suitable female, the male butterfly will fly towards the mate to investigate. The other method is referred to as patrolling. This involves flying over an area where female butterflies are more active.
Once it comes across a possible mate, the male will go near for trying its luck. If everything goes well, the mating rituals will begin.
The male butterfly relies on different methods when finding a female of similar species. One of these ways is close monitoring. During this process, the male will identify a potential mate by looking at the color and pattern.
Once the ideal female is spotted, the male starts to fly closer to the female. The male will also release a specific chemical known as pheromones. This is the first signal for mating.
In some cases, the male may start to perform a “Courtship Dance”. It serves as another signal for mating. If the female is also interested, she will join the dance.
The mating starts once both the male and the female join the ends of their abdomens. The male releases sperms into the female’s egg-laying tube.
When the eggs pass through this tube, they get fertilized by the sperms. Sadly, the male tends to die shortly after a successful mating process.
Once the mating is over, the female starts to find a suitable plant for laying her egg. This is essential, as after hatching from eggs, the caterpillar will only eat specific types of leaves.
So, it might take some time for the female butterfly to select a suitable plant. Amazingly, she is capable of recognizing a plant species by analyzing its shape and leaf color.
In order to be 100% sure, the female taps the leaf with her feet. This results in the appearance of scratches on the outer layer of a leave, which releases a certain plant odor.
After being sure, the female will start laying her eggs. The eggs are already fertilized. A few butterflies lay only one egg. On the contrary, there are species, which lay eggs in form of clusters.
A sticky substance also comes out along with the eggs. It helps the eggs to firmly stick to the leaf. For safety purposes, the female lays her eggs on the lower side of a leaf.
Butterflies Do Hibernate
As stated earlier, butterflies are cold-blooded animals. Hence, it is not possible for them to survive harsh winter conditions. To avoid unfavorable circumstances, butterflies prefer to hibernate.
For this purpose, they choose a protected spot. They may go for different options including perennial plants, the bark of trees, old fences, or logs.
Unbelievably, depending on the species, butterflies may hibernate at any stage of their lifecycle. For instance, one species is capable of hibernating when they are just eggs.
Similarly, other species of butterfly may hibernate at the Larval, or Pupal stage. There are only a few species, which are capable of hibernating at the adult stage.
Migrating is another way that allows butterflies to escape extreme cold weather. A few species such as Cabbage Butterflies and Painted Ladies can fly no more than a hundred miles.
Some other species like Monarch butterfly is capable of traveling thousands of miles in search of a suitable weather condition.
Especially, monarchs are famous as the champions of butterfly migration. These butterflies can cover over 4000 miles while making a round trip.
While migrating, females don’t mate. They only lay eggs at a different locations. In most cases, offspring complete the journey that their parents had started.
Birds, lizards, spiders, and numerous other animals prey on caterpillars and butterflies. These defenseless insects have no other choice but to hide or camouflage.
Caterpillars have a green color and special body structure that allows them to perfectly disappear into the background.
Some larvae look similar to bird dropping. Hence, they stay outside the range of their predators. Besides, the patterns and colors of a butterfly give it an opportunity to blend into the background.
Some might appear to be a deal leaf, while others take advantage of dark surroundings. When under camouflage, the butterflies seldom move their wings or any other part of body.
Is there any Difference between Moths and Butterflies?
In fact, both these species belong to a similar group known as Lepidoptera. Nevertheless, there are various notable differences between these two. The major differences between moths and butterflies are listed below.
- Butterflies come with a clubbed antenna. On the contrary, moths possess a feathery or fuzzy antenna.
- Butterflies perform their activities during the day. Moths, on the other hand, are active during the night.
- Butterflies held their wings upwards while sleeping or resting. Moths like to spread their wings while resting.
- Butterflies have vivid colored wings. Usually, moths have colors that aren’t bright.
How Butterflies Sleep?
Since butterflies are most active during the day, they prefer to sleep during the night. Most of the species like to sleep upside-down while hanging from a branch or leave.
Sleeping in this manner saves them from rain or predators. Especially, birds are quite hungry in the morning. Staying under leaves gives them the required protection from such predators.
While sleeping, butterflies digest most of their food. They are experiencing a “low metabolic state” at night. This helps them to save their energy for early morning activities.
However, scientists aren’t sure whether butterflies are actually sleeping or they are just taking rest during the darkness.
How do Butterflies see?
Butterflies are able to see with their two eyes. These are the compound eyes, which consist of thousands of extremely tiny lenses.
Such eyes have more “photoreceptors” (light-detecting cells) than our eyes. These cells are responsible for converting light into electric signals. These signals are then transferred to the brain for processing.
With these eyes, a butterfly can seek information from all directions. This helps them to keep an eye on the predators or find nectar-filled flowers.
The color vision of butterflies is simply amazing. The ability to absorb maximum light makes it possible for the butterflies to detect even the subtle color change. This helps them while finding a perfect mate.
How do butterflies fly?
Before making a flight, butterflies have to warm up their body. Being a cold-blooded animal, butterfly relies on the external sources in order to maintain their temperature.
The ideal temperature to fly is 30°C approx. So, butterflies bask in the sun to absorb the heat and warm up their muscles and wings.
Previously, we believed that butterflies fly by flapping their wings. This perception was wrong, as the researchers have reached a new conclusion. A research team comprising Swedish scientists shared their findings in early 2021.
According to them, butterflies fly differently than birds. Meaning thereby, they fly without flapping their wings. When scientists study the flying mechanism of butterflies, they found a distinctive action referred to as “Wing Clap”.
On close observation, it was observed that when clapping, the wings bend slightly. This makes a pocket-like structure of the wings.
During this process, the butterflies first collect air and then use it to fly. In fact, they create a pocket and use the collected air to gain upward thrust.
Amazing Facts about Butterflies
Discussed below are a few of the interesting and unbelievable facts about butterflies.
Wings of a Butterfly are Transparent
You might not believe it but it’s true. The wings of a butterfly are actually transparent. They are made of transparent material known as chitin, which is a type of protein.
The colors of a butterfly’s wings are due to the presence of thousands of scales. These miniature scales are perfectly arranged to create different patterns and color combinations.
Butterflies have a Shorter Life Span
On average, adult butterflies can live for 3 to 4 weeks. However, their entire lifecycle (including metamorphosis) ranges between two and eight months.
However, there are a few exceptions. There is one type of a butterfly, which lives only for 24 hours. On the other hand, migratory butterflies such as Monarch can live for eight months.
Butterflies have Taste Buds in their Feet
It sounds weird, yet it’s a normal thing for the butterflies to taste their food with their feet. This is so, as the taste buds or receptors are located at their feet.
These receptors help butterflies to locate a suitable flower by analyzing its flavor. Butterflies can even locate and identify the key nutrients required for their survival with help of their feet.
Butterflies Don’t Eat-They Just Drink
Butterflies don’t have a regular mouth or teeth to bite or chew food. They only have a proboscis, which acts like a straw. Hence, butterflies rely on a liquid diet, which mainly consists of flower nectar.
Butterfly Uses its Wings to Escape Predators
Butterflies have to struggle to live their already shorter lifespan. They have to stay alive for the mating. This ensures the existence of their species.
However, the most obvious threat to butterflies is from predators. To avoid them, butterflies use their wings to stay protected. When resting on a plant, butterflies tend to spread their wings.
The vibrant colors and striking patterns frighten the predators. This is so, as bright colors are the indication of danger. Hence, predators avoid messing with the butterflies.
Butterflies Can’t See Much Further
The eyes of a butterfly can only see up to 10-12 feet. The eyesight of a butterfly is good within this range. However, anything beyond such a limit appears to be blurry.
On the contrary, butterflies can distinguish colors easily. They can even see a variety of other colors that are invisible to us. Their wings also have ultraviolet colors and markings. This helps them to identify their species.
These colors and patterns are extremely useful when it comes to identifying a potential mate. Flowers also have ultraviolet markings and colors. This helps them to attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is the Biggest Butterfly
As the name suggests, the giant swallowtail butterfly is the biggest of all species of butterflies. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges between four to seven inches.
The hindwings of this butterfly contain long tail-like structures. Hence, they are named swallowtail butterflies.
Butterflies Possess Four, not Two Wings
Talking about the wings of a butterfly, they look astonishingly beautiful and fascinating. However, there is a misconception that butterflies have only two wings.
Apparently, we see only two wings. Nevertheless, in reality, butterflies have four wings. The wings near the head of a butterfly are known as forewings. On the contrary, the wings at the rear end are named hindwings.
The strong muscles of the thorax allow a butterfly to use all these four wings simultaneously. These wings also offer better maneuverability during flight.
After going through such extensive information about butterflies, you now have more knowledge about these fabulous creatures. It would be much easier for you to identify the species of a butterfly by merely looking at it.