We all love butterflies for their beautiful appearance. Their brightly-colored wings are just majestic, and when they flock in groups in a garden full of flowers, the scene is just mesmerizing. But apart from their appearance, we know very little facts about butterflies. Some species of butterflies are highly conserved. They are on the verge of extinction because of habitat loss and climate change. You will be surprised to know that there are over 18,000 species of butterflies globally, and they live in all sorts of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and even the Arctic tundra.
They live an interesting life, and their lifecycle is just mystifying. As they grow, they undergo incredibly terrific transformations, which is a process known as ‘metamorphosis.’
If you’re ready to get the inside scoop on one of nature’s most majestic and beautiful creatures, check out this guide discussing the interesting life and several facts about butterflies.
What is a butterfly?
A butterfly is an adult flying stage of specific insects belonging to a group or order known as ‘Lepidoptera.’ Insects like moths also belong to this group. In Greek, the term ‘Lepidoptera‘ means “scaly wings.” This is because the wings of the insects in this group are covered with hundreds and thousands of tiny little scales overlying in succession. The scales are arranged in colorful, unique patterns, and they are unique to each species. This is what gives butterflies their true and mesmerizing beauty.
Like the majority of insects you see daily, butterflies have six tiny legs and three primary body parts, namely the head, chest or midsection (thorax), and the tail end (abdomen). They also have an exoskeleton and two antennae.
Many people confuse butterflies with moths because they look somewhat the same. But there are a lot of differences. Generally, butterflies are different from butterflies in the following ways:
- Butterflies have clubbed antennae, while moths have feathery or fuzzy antennae
- Moths are active during the night while butterflies prefer to perform their activities in the broad daylight
- When butterflies rest, they do so with their wings held vertically over their slim exoskeleton, whereas moths prefer resting with spreading out their wings flat. Nevertheless, butterflies prefer basking in the sun with their wings stretched out
- Finally, butterflies are more brightly colored and attractive than moths. Moths have wings that dull, and the colors are very limited
The lifecycle of a Butterfly – how much do butterflies live?
You will be amazed to know about the lifecycle of butterflies. They have four life stages:
- Caterpillar (larva)
- Chrysalis (pupa)
- Adult butterfly
Each stage in their life cycle is unique. And the interesting part is that each species of butterfly has a unique life cycle. This is what makes butterflies an interesting creature. So many people are involved in hobbies like watching and creating this magnificent creature because it is so much fun to know so many facts about butterflies.
- The Egg Stage: While the egg stage usually lasts for about 3-7 days, it can be quite a long time for butterflies. Some species of butterflies overwinter as eggs and go through a period of physiologically enforced dormancy to survive the many months of winter.
- The Caterpillar: In 3-7 days or after the winter dormancy, the egg hatches, and a tiny caterpillar emerges from the egg. You will be surprised to know that the caterpillars eat their own eggshells as their first meal for survival. A caterpillar is an ‘eating machine’ that will eat everything from leaves to flowers before it begins to pupate and increase its body mass at least a thousand times. This is the reason why they are considered pests in some regions. They attack crops and vegetation. But, even in this stage, they are among the most beautiful insects you will ever see. They have a brightly-colored body where the colors just pop. It is truly mesmerizing to the eyes. The sad news is that only a few caterpillars survive. The caterpillar stage is the most dangerous in the entire life cycle. Their mortality rates are quite high, and apart from humans, they are threatened by predators, parasites, and diseases. Of hundreds of eggs laid, only a few emerge as caterpillars. It will stay in the caterpillar stage for about 2-5 weeks based on the growing conditions and the species.
- Chrysalis: The chrysalis stage is when the caterpillar is ready to pupate. The caterpillar makes a silk mat and attaches itself to the base. Also, many species spun a string of silk around their body to trap themselves and attach to the branch. Most butterflies will attach themselves upside down from their silk pad. It is also known as a cocoon, and the caterpillar will remain in their silk housing for about 1-2 weeks before they emerge as butterflies.
- Butterfly: Finally, the butterfly emerges from the cocoon and immediately goes out in search of male/female for mating and laying eggs, and this life cycle continues.
How much do butterflies live?
With that being said, the average lifespan of a butterfly is about 2-3 weeks, depending on the species. Can you imagine how they do everything in such a short amount of time?
And then? Did you like to know a little more about a beautiful specimen of our nature and know some facts about butterflies that you didn’t know yet? We hope so!