Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like several insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a set of antennae, compound eyes, as well as an exoskeleton. The 3 body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end).
The butterfly's body is covered by tiny sensory hairs. The four wings and also the six legs from the butterfly are attached to the thorax. The thorax contains the muscles which make the legs and wings move.
Swallowtails are strong fliers.
Butterflies are extremely good fliers. They have two pairs of huge wings engrossed in colorful, iridescent scales in overlapping rows. Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are the only insects that have scaly wings. The wings are attached to the butterfly's thorax (mid-section). Veins support the delicate wings and nourish all of them with blood.
Butterflies are only able to fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. Butterflies sun themselves to warm up in cool weather. As butterflies age, the color from the wings fades and the wings become ragged.
The speed varies among butterfly species (the poisonous varieties are slower than non-poisonous varieties). The fastest butterflies (some skippers) can fly at about 30 mile each hour or faster. Slow flying butterflies fly about 5 mph.
LIFE-CYCLE Of the BUTTERFLY
Butterflies and moths undergo complete metamorphosis by which they're going through four different life stages.
Egg - A butterfly starts its life being an egg, often laid on the leaf.
Larva - The larva (caterpillar) hatches from an egg and eats leaves or flowers almost constantly. The caterpillar molts (loses its old skin) many times because it grows. The caterpillar will increase up to several thousand times in dimensions before pupating.
Pupa - It becomes a pupa (chrysalis); this can be a resting stage.
Adult - An attractive, flying adult emerges. This adult will continue the cycle.
Monarch larva Caterpillars spend most of their time eating leaves using strong mandibles (jaws). A caterpillar's first meal, however, is its own eggshell. Several caterpillars are meat-eaters; the larva from the carnivorous Harvester butterfly eats woolly aphids.
Butterflies and moths are only able to sip liquid food using a tube-like proboscis, the industry long, flexible "tongue." This proboscis uncoils to sip food, and coils up again right into a spiral keep. Most butterflies live on nectar from flowers. Some butterflies sip the liquid from rotting fruits along with a rare few prefer rotting animal flesh or animal fluids (the Harvester butterfly pierces the groups of woolly aphids using its sharp proboscis and drinks the body fluids).
Butterflies are found around the globe and in all kinds of environments: hot and cold, dry and moist, on the ocean level and high in high altitude. Most butterfly species, however, are located in tropical areas, especially tropical rainforests.
butterflyMany butterflies migrate to prevent adverse environmental conditions (like cold weather). Butterfly migration isn't well understood. Most migrate relatively short distances (like the Painted Lady, the Red Admiral, and also the Common Buckeye), but a few (like some Monarchs) migrate thousands of miles.
Butterflies and moth belong to the order Lepidoptera. Lepidos is Greek for "scales" and ptera means "wing". These scaled wings aren't the same as the wings associated with a other insects. Lepidoptera is a very large group; there are more types of butterflies and moths than you will find associated with a other type of insects except beetles. It is estimated that there are approximately 150,000 different species of butterflies and moths (there may be many more). There are about 28,000 butterfly species worldwide, the remainder are moths.
Butterfly fossils are rare. The earliest butterfly fossils are from the early Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago. Their development is closely from the evolution of flowering plants (angiosperms) since both adult butterflies and caterpillars feast upon flowering plants, and also the adults are important pollinators of numerous flowering plants. Flowering plants also evolved throughout the Cretaceous period.