A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, lava , pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers(superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). All the many other families within the Lepidoptera are referred to as moths.
Butterflies exhibit polymorsphim, mimicry and aposematism. Some, like the Monarch , will migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; however, some species are agents of pollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies (e.g., harvesters) eat harmful insects. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollen,tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, decaying flesh, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. Butterflies are important as pollinators for some species of plants although in general they do not carry as much pollen load as bees They are however capable of moving pollen over greater distances. flower constancy has been observed for at least one species of butterfly.
Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.
As adults, butterflies consume only liquids which are ingested by means of their proboscis. They sip water from damp patches for hydration and feed on nectar from flowers, from which they obtain sugars for energy as well as sodium and other minerals vital for reproduction. Several species of butterflies need more sodium than that provided by nectar and are attracted by sodium in salt; they sometimes land on people, attracted by the salt in human sweat. Some butterflies also visit dung, rotting fruit or carcasses to obtain minerals and nutrients. In many species, this mud puddling behaviour is restricted to the males, and studies have suggested that the nutrients collected may be provided as a nuptial gift along with the spermatophore, during mating.
Butterflies use their antennae to sense the air for wind and scents. The antennae come in various shapes and colours; the hesperids have a pointed angle or hook to the antennae, while most other families show knobbed antennae. The antennae are richly covered with sensory organs known as sensillae. A butterfly's sense of taste is coordinated by chemoreceptors on the tarsi, or feet, which work only on contact, and are used to determine whether an egg-laying insect's offspring will be able to feed on a leaf before eggs are laid on it. Many butterflies use chemical signals, pheromones, and specialized scent scales (androconia) and other structures (coremata or 'Hair pencils' in the Danaidae) are developed in some species.
SOME FACTS OTHER BREEDS OF BUTTERFLIES.
AMERICAN SNOUT BUTTERFLY
The American Snout (Libytheana carinenta) is a butterfly that has long labial palps (mustache-like scaly mouthparts on either side of the proboscis) that look like a long snout. The butterfly has a 1 3/8 - 2 inch (3.5 - 5 cm) wingspan. The front pair of legs on the male (but not the female) are reduced in size. Eggs are laid in groups on the hackberry plant. The caterpillar eats hackberry (celtis); the adult sips nectar of the flowers from asters, dogbane, dogwood, goldenrod, sweet pepperbush, and more. Adult American Snout butterflies look like dead leaves. They sometimes go on long migrations. They are brush-footed butterflies (Family Libytheidae).
BLUE MORPHO BUTTERFLY
The Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho menelaus) is a species of neotropical butterfly that has iridescent blue wings (the females are are not as brilliantly colored as the males and have a brown edge with white spots surrounding the iridescent blue area). The undersides (visible when the butterfly is resting) are brown with bronze-colored eyespots. Adults drink the juices of rotting fruit. The caterpillar of the Blue Morpho is red-brown with bright patches of lime-green on the back, and it eats the plant Erythroxylum pilchrumnocturnally (at night). Blue Morphos live in rainforests from Brazil to Venezuela. Blue Morphos belong to the Family Nymphalidae, Genus Morpho, and species menelaus.
California Dogface Butterfly:
Printable Read-and-Answer Worksheet
A printable worksheet on the California Dogface butterfly, with a short text to read, pictures to label, a life cycle diagram to label, and questions to answer. Or go to the answers.
GARDEN TIGER MOTH
The Garden Tiger (Arctia caja), also known as the Great Tiger Moth, is a common moth that is has a 1.8-2.8 inch (4.5-7 cm) wingspan. Its caterpillar, the black woolly bear, has long black hairs on top and rust-colored hairs on the underside. It is found in Europe and Asia in temperate regions, and less frequently in the Canada and Northern USA. Family Arctiidae.
GOLIATH BIRDWING BUTTERFLY
The Goliath Birdwing (Ornithoptera goliath) is the second-largest butterfly in the world. This brightly-colored butterfly is poisonous and has a wingspan up to 11 inches (28 cm) wide. It has black, yellow and green wings and a yellow and black body. This butterfly in found in tropical forests in Indonesia. Family Papilionidae.
The Julia is a yellow-orange tropical butterfly with long forewings. It is about 3-4 inches wide. The female Julia is a duller shade of orange and has more dark markings. The small, yellow-to-gold eggs are oval and the pupa is angular. The Julia caterpillar feeds on passion flower vine (Passiflora); the adult sips nectar from the flowers of the lantana and shepherd's needle. Julias are found from South and Central America to the southern USA. The Julia belongs to the Heliconians, tropical butterflies that have a large head and have a bad taste and smell. It is a brush-footed butterfly (Family Nymphalidae).
KARNER BLUE BUTTERFLY
The Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a small, blue butterfly that has a wingspan of about 1 inch (2.5 cm). This endangered species lives in oak savannas and pine barrens and is associated with wild lupine (Lupinus perennis, a plant that the caterpillar eats). Adults drink the nectar of horsemint, butterflyweed, and bachelors button. The adult male (pictured above) and female have a very different appearance. The upper sides of the male's wings are silver to dark blue with white and black margins. The upper sides of the female's wings are gray-brown to blue, with some bands of orange crescents along the bottom of the hind wing, and white and black margins. The underside of the wings of both sexes are grayish in colorwith orange crescents and some metallic spots along the bottom of both hind wings. The green caterpillar is tended by ants; these ants collect a sugary liquid that is secreted by the caterpillar, and the ants protect the caterpillar from some predators and parasites.
Milbert's tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti) is a small butterfly with a squared-off fore-wing. The wingspan is 1.6 - 2.5 inches (4.2 - 6.3 cm). It lives in North America from southern Alaska down to Mexico. Huge batches of eggs (up to 900) are laid on nettles. The caterpillar eats nettles; the adult feeds on flowers (thistles, goldenrods, and lilacs), sap and rotting fruit.
The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a common poisonous butterfly found worldwide. It eatsmilkweed in its larval stage and lays eggs on the poisonous milkweed plant. Monarchs have a wingspan of 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches (8.6 - 12.4 cm).
MOURNING CLOAK BUTTERFLY
(Nymphalis antiopa, Linnaeus 1758) The mourning cloak (also known as Camberwell beauty) is a butterfly with unusual forewing outlines. The dark maroon wings have pale, speckled edges and a dark inner margin with blue spots. Eggs are laid in large clusters on elm, poplar, and willow trees. The caterpillar is black with white spots and has maroon patches on the back. This larva eats the leaves of poplar, elm, salix, and betula. Adults sip fermenting fruit juices, oak sap, and flower nectar. The mourning cloak is found in riparian forests in Europe, North America, and temperate areas in Asia.
PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLY
Vanessa cardui is a widespread butterfly in temperate and some tropical areas. It also known as the thistle butterfly and the cosmopolitan. The Painted Lady has a 2 - 2 7/8 inches (5.1 - 7.3 cm) wingspan. Adults sip thistle nectar and some hibernate. The life cycle begins with tiny, pale green eggs. The yellow-striped, brown-green spiny caterpillar builds a silky, webbed nest, usually in thistle. Family: Nymphalidae
The peacock butterfly (Inachis io) is a common butterfly from temperate parts of Europe (including Britain) and Asia. This butterfly makes a hissing sound when it is alarmed (usually upon seeing a bird); it makes the sound by rubbing its wings together. The wings are brownish-purple with a bright eyespot on each wing (the wings look a bit like an owl's face). The undersides of the wings are mottled grayish-brown. The larval host plant is the stinging nettle; the caterpillar is black with spines. Classification: Family Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies), genus Inachis, species I. io.
Heliconius melpomene is a poisonous butterfly from neotropical habitats in Central America to Brazil. This butterfly has long antenna, and wings that are brown with orange spots. They have a wingspan of 2.5 to 3.25 inches (6 to 8 cm). The caterpillars eat passion vines (Passiflora). Family: Nymphalidae, genus Heliconius, species H. melpomene.
QUEEN ALEXANDRA'S BIRDWING
Queen Alexandra's Birdwing is the biggest butterfly in the world, with a wingspan up to 1 ft (30 cm) wide. The female is larger than the male and is brown with cream spots; the male is brown with blue and green markings and has a bright yellow abdomen. The caterpillar is black with red tentacles and has a cream-colored spot in the middle of its body. This rare butterfly is found in the lowland forests of northern Papua New Guinea (east of the Owen Stanley Mountains).
The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a common migratory butterfly found in marshy north temperate regions of Asia, Europe and North America. It is a fast flier. Its caterpillar lives only on nettles. Classification: Family Nymphalidae.
The Saturn Butterfly (Zeuxidia amethystus) has a wingspan of about 3.9-4.3 inches (10-11 cm) and lives in the shady forest understory. The female is paler than the male (above). The Saturn Butterfly is found in Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, Burma, and Sumatra. It was named by Butler in 1865. Classification: Family Nymphalidae (Subfamily Morphinae).
The southern dogface butterfly, Colias cesonia, is a yellow butterfly that is also known as the dog's head butterfly. The wings are mostly yellow; there is a small dark circle in the center of the forewing and the margins of the wings are black) they look a bit like a dog's face). Males have brighter coloration than females. The wingspan is 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches (58-65 cm). The caterpillar is green with black and yellow stripes. This butterfly lives in open woods in the southern half of the USA. The larval host plant is the false indigo bush, Amorpha fruticosa (a legume). Classification: family Pieridae, genus Colias (Zerene), species C. cesonia.
SUMMER AZURE BUTTERFLY
The Summer Azure Butterfly (Celestrina neglecta) is a small, lilac-blue butterfly with a paler underside. It has a wingspan of 3/4 to 1 1/8 inch (2- 2.75 cm). It lives in open areas and grassy fields, and it sips clover nectar. It is found in most of eastern North America. The Summer Azure is the palest of the Azure butterflies. It was named by Edwards in 1862. Classification: Family Lycaenidae.
TIGER SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY
The tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucas) is a strong flier with distinctive yellow and black striped markings on its wings and body (some females are brown or black, mimicking the poisonous pipevine swallowtail). This butterfly has a wingspan of 3.5-6.5 inches (9-16.5 cm) and is found throughout the USA and Canada. The caterpillar is plump and green with yellow eyespots; it looks like bird droppings when young. Larvae eat leaves from the tulip tree, sweet bay, wild black cherry, ash, lilac, aspen, birch, and choke cherry.
Papilio ulysses, also known as the Ulysses butterfly, the Blue Mountain Swallowtail, the Blue Emperor, and the Mountain Blue, is a spectacular Australian butterfly. The male is an iridescent blue-green with a dark background. The female is more subdued in color. They have a wingspan of about 5.5 inches (14 cm). Both have a long "swallowtail." Males are attracted to most blue objects (mistaking them for females). There are 16 known subspecies.
The Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) is a brown and orange non-poisonous butterfly that is very similar to the Monarch; it is aBatesian mimic of the poisonous Monarch. It can be distinguished from the Monarch by the black line that crosses its wings. Also, the undersides of its wings are quite similar to the topside (unlike the Monarch, whose underside is much lighter). It has a wingspan of 2.75 to 3 inches (7 to 7.5 cm). The Viceroy is found from Canada to Mexico. The caterpillar is olive green and brown with bristly tufts behind the head; it eats mostly willow and cottonwood. Classification: Family Nymphalidae.
ZEBRA SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY
The Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) is a butterfly with distinctive black and white markings and elongated tails on its hindwings. The caterpillar is yellow-green with black and yellow stripes. Larvae eat pawpaw. The Zebra Swallowtail has a wingspan of about 2-2.75 inches (5-7 cm). The Zebra Swallowtail lives for about 6 months in its adult stage. It is found in the eastern part of North America from Canada to Florida, USA. Family Papilionidae