Butterflies

Lepidoptera

Butterflies are flying insects with colorful wings that vary in colors and patterns from species to species. The colors on their wings are created by a dense mosaic of tiny scales. They have a head, abdomen and thorax with their skeletons on the outside of their bodies. There are thousands of species of butterflies.

butterfly picture

Size

Butterflies range in size with wingspans from 1/8 inch to almost 12 inches.

Life span

The average life span for an adult butterfly is about 2-4 weeks.

Diet

An adult butterfly uses its straw-like proboscis to eat nectar from flowers, juice from rotting fruit and water from damp patches.

Population

Exact numbers are not known. There are up to approximately 20,000 species of butterflies throughout the the world.

Range

Butterflies can be found worldwide except on the continent of Antarctica.

Life Cycle

Butterflies have four stages in their lives.

1) The egg – Eggs will vary in size depending on the butterfly species. The female will attach the egg to an object such as a stem or a leaf.

2) Caterpillars – The caterpillar (or larval form) is the multi legged worm-like stage. Caterpillars will eat almost any and all plant matter.

3) The Pupa or Chrysalis Stage – The caterpillar will attach itself to a twig or leaf and form a shell around itself called a Chrysalis. Inside this Chrysalis is where it will begin it’s change from caterpillar to butterfly.

4) The Imago – After the Pupa stage the adult butterfly will emerge from its Chrysalis. It will seek out new areas to live with an abundance of food plants. It will mate and reproduce and the new butterflies will repeat the cycle.