Friday 1 February 2013


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Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Arthropoda 
Class: Insecta 
Order: Lepidoptera 
Suborder: Rhopalocera 

1.  Butterflies make up 10 percent of the order lepidoptera
Moths and butterflies belong to the order Lepidoptera, meaning scale winged.  Butterflies comprise of the subfamilies Papilionoidea (true butterflies), Hesperioidea (skippers) and Hedyloidea (moth-butterflies). All the many other families within the Lepidoptera are referred to as moths.

2.  There are four steps in becoming a butterfly
These are egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa, and adult. Caterpillars shed their skin as they grow, then form a chrysalis and change into a butterfly. This process is called metamorphosis, which comes from the Latin words for "changing shape."

3. Some are big.  And I mean big!
Western pygmy blue
The largest known butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandra Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) from the rain forests of Papua New Guinea.  This rare butterfly has a wingspan of 30 cm. The Goliath birdwing (Ornithoptera goliath), also from the rain forests of Papua New Guinea, is also one of the largest butterflies with an average wingspan of 28 cm.

4.  Some are small
The smallest known butterfly is the Western Pygmy Blue (Lycaenidae), which are found in North American and Africa. They have wingspans between 6-12 mm.

5.  They have scales
The powder that rubs off when you touch a butterfly's wing is actually tiny scales.  The butterfly sheds these scales throughout its lifetime. It is not true that if you touch a butterfly’s wing and the ‘powder’ rubs off that the butterfly will not be able to fly.

Monachs migrating
6.  They migrate
Many butterflies, such as the Monarch butterfly, are migratory and capable of long distance flights. Butterflies migrate during the day and use the sun to orient themselves.
Monarchs have been known to migrate over 1800 miles (3000 km), and can fly 600 miles (1000 km0 without stopping. 

7. They can shift some
Butterflies can attain a flight speed of over 30 miles (50 km) per hour. The fastest butterflies are the skippers, which can fly at 37 miles (60 km) per hour.  Most butterflies travel at 5-12 miles (8-20 km) per hour.

8.  They are great pollinators
Butterflies are the second largest group of to bees. 
Peacock butterfly

9.  Mimicry in butterflies is common
This may be to imitate other species, or even other butterflies, for defence purposes.  
The palatable North American species Limenitis archippus bears a quite remarkable resemblance to the highly toxic Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus.The Common Mormon butterfly in India has female morphs which imitate the unpalatable red-bodied swallowtails.

10.  Butterflies taste with their feet
A butterfly's taste sensors are located on the bottom of its feet. They can taste their food just by standing on it. They don't have mouths that allow them to bite or chew, instead they have a long straw-like structure called a proboscis which they use to drink nectar and juices.

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