Featured in #1 Artists of Redbubble – 2/09
Featured in 50 Things – 3/09
50 Things about Butterflies
1. Butterflies are from the Lepidoptera family
2. Lepidoptera means scaly (lepido) winged (ptera)
3. There are 2 related super-families, the true butterflies (Papilionoidea) and the skippers (Hesperoidea) “butterflies.”
4. There are over 20,000 species of butterflies in the world
5. 725 species have occurred in North American north of Mexico, with about 575 of these occurring regularly in the lower 48 states of the United States, and with about 275 species occurring regularly in Canada. Roughly 2000 species are found in Mexico. Over 180 species have been recorded in Florida, with 40 of those unique to the state
6. The average life span is about 4 weeks. Monarchs, Morning Cloaks and tropical heliconians can live up to nine months.
7. At least one stage in a butterfly species’ life cycle must be resistant to freezing if the species is resident. Most butterflies that live in cold climates spend the winter as caterpillars, while almost as many spend the winter as pupas.
8. A few species, mainly tortoiseshells (Nymphalis) and anglewings (Polygonia), spend the winter as adults, hibernating in holes in trees, in crevices in man-made structures, or in other shelters. A very few species spend the winter as eggs.
9. Most adult butterflies drink nectar from flowers through their proboscis (tongues), which function much like straws.
10. The caterpillars almost all eat plant matter. Mainly the caterpillars eat leaves, but some species eat seeds and seed pods while others specialize on flowers.
11. Most butterflies lay their eggs on plants that will be eaten by the caterpillar, when it hatches.
12. Butterflies have a sense of smell, they have chemoreceptors at the ends of their antennas and on the bottoms of their “feet!”
13. Many species of butterflies migrate, not just the Monarchs.
14. Butterflies go through a complete metamorphosis; egg, larva (capterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), adult (imago)
15. Butterflies exclusively fly in the day, have narrow antennae, which are thickened at the end (clubs). In the quiescent position butterflies mostly fold the wings up over the back.
16. The family tree of butterflies can be found in binominal nomenclature as follows.
17. There are 4 sub-families
18. Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to a huge almost 12 inches
19. Butterflies can see red, green, and yellow
20. Butterflies can reach speeds of 12mph and a few can reach 20mph!
21. Butterfly body temperatures need to be 86 degrees to fly. I’ve read where they can’t fly if the air temps are below 70 degrees, but I have seen them flying around my yard in temps below 70.
22. Representations of butterflies are seen in Egyptian frescoes at Thebes, which are 3,500 years old
23. Antarctica is the only continent on which no butterflies have been found
24. The Brimstone butterfly (Gonepterix rhamni) has the longest lifetime of the adult butterflies: 9-10 months
25. Butterflies and insects have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton. This protects the insect and keeps water inside their bodies so they don’t dry out
26. Butterflies are necessary pollinators
27. There is much mimicry in butterflies, where non-toxic butterflies mimic in color and patterns those that are toxic; Viceroy (non-toxic) and Monarch (toxic)
28. In the insect world, orange and black are warning signs to predators not to eat them, they could get sick and/or die
29. Butterflies take refuge at night in trees, under leaves, and in tall grasses
30. The scales on the wings overlap like shingles and make up the color and pattern on the wings
31. Some butterflies have summer colors and winter colors, as well as size differences and reproductive activities
32. Butterflies have 2 compound eyes and the caterpillars have 6 pair of eyes called ocelli
33. Only 1% of 100 eggs produced by a butterfly will live to become another adult butterfly
34. The act of a butterfly “hatching” from the chrysalis is called eclosing
35. The caterpillar will go through 4 to 5 molting stages called instars before becoming a chrysalis, where they can double in size with each molt
36. It takes about 30 days for the butterflies to go from an egg to an adult
37. It is a myth that you will harm or kill a butterfly by touching its wings, although it may lose a few scales, but hold them gently if you must
38. Along with nectar from flowers, butterflies will consume nutrients from tree sap, fruit, dung, carrion and dissolved minerals in wet dirt or sand
39. Many species maintain territories and actively chase other species or individuals that may stray into them
40. There are at least 19 species that are listed as threatened or endangered of becoming extinct
41. Want butterflies in your backyard? Plant butterfly friendly nectar and host plants
42. NEVER USE PESTICIDES, HERBICIDES OR OTHER HARMFUL CHEMICALS
43. Create your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat and get it certified through the National Wildlife Federation and/or Join the Monarch Waystation program. I am members of both
44. The 4 essentials to a butterfly/wildlife friendly yard
45. Plant native plants – less maintenance, pest resistance, wildlife friendly, non-invasive
46. Butterflies do not urinate or defecate. If one drinks too much water they will expel it from their abdomen
47. A caterpillar will eat 27,000 times its own body weight
48. Adult butterflies do not sleep or urinate. Caterpillars defecate and it is called frass!
49. The caterpillar is one of the most often mentioned insects in the Bible
50. Partial proceeds of all sales of any of my butterfly prints is donated to MonarchWatch and/or Butterfly Conservation Initiative. So far I have been able to donate $20.00 to MonarchWatch, not much, but every little bit helps.