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Di's Butterfly Garden-

Butterfly Facts

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This is the page you will find a few facts on butterflies

Butterflies are cold blooded; they do not produce metabolic heat like humans, so they must rely on the sun to raise their body temperature so they can move about.  Some bask with their wings open, others with wings shut.

Many butterflies are territorial and fight, chasing others out of their territory.

Butterflies can see ultraviolet light (light invisible to the human eye) which makes the markings on flowers very vivid to them and guides them to the nectar tubes.  Some butterflies have ultraviolet reflectants or markings on their own wings which are visible only to other butterflies.

Butterflies are pollinators.  While they are not as abundant as bees, they do offer a particularly valuable contribution to the continuation of genetic diversity.  Unlike bees which tend to be home based, butterflies move randomly over the landscape.  We know of certain plants such as the  blazing star, and Curtis milkweed that seem to be totally dependent on butterflies for pollination (both species are on the endangered species list).

If you want to bring flying flowers into your yard, you need to plant nectar plants, that supply food for the butterflies, and larval plants, which are the food source for the caterpillars.  Selecting the nectar plants is easy because butterflies and birds will take nectar from a wide variety of flowers.  Generally these are plants that have sweet smelling flowers in warm colors such as yellow, red, orange and blue blossoms.  By selecting plants that have an abundance of nectar, you will have a cloud of butterflies beating their wings to your garden path.

Now, you have a fast food restaurant.  However, if you want future generations to be born in your yard, you need to select larval plants for the butterflies to deposit their eggs.  Just as you and I have different ethnic food preferences, different species of butterflies show a preference for different species of flowers.  Certain species of butterfly choose specific plants as the food source for the caterpillars and will lay their eggs only on that particular plant. 

There are about 20,000 species of butterflies and more than 200,000 species of moths.

Butterflies have strong muscles in their thorax which force their wings up and down on a fulcrum basis.
  They actually go in a slanted figure 8 motion that propels them forward through the air in the same principle
   as an airplane.

Butterflies typically lay their eggs in late spring and hatch 3-6 days after they are laid. It takes 3-4 weeks for a caterpillar to pupate and 9-14 days to emerge as a adult.

Most butterflies prefer flowers that are pink, red, purple, or yellow and that are open all day. Butterflies generally fly only during the day, at night they sleep between blades of grass or find the underside of a leaf. Butterflies cna't hear, but they can feel vibration which works best when hiding from predators. These are butterfly facts that are interesting to know.

Female butterflies are usually bigger and live longer than males. The female butterfly gives off a scent that the male butterfly can smell. Butterflies weigh only as much as two rose petal, but they can fly thousands of miles.

Adult butterflies are active in the day. (Moths are active at night.)
A resting butterfly holds its wings together above it's back. (Moths holds it's wings horizontally.)

A butterfly's antennae are clubbed at the tips. (Moth's antennae are straight or feathered.)

Adult butterflies communicate through chemical cues - the males produce chemicals called pheromones to seduce the females.

When it is cloudy or night, the adult butterfly rest by hanging upside down from leaves or twigs. (where they are hidden among the foliage)

Butterfly wings are covered with tiny scales, each a single color.
These colors are produced by pigments. The iridenscence of some butterflies results from a reflective microstructure on the scale's surface.


Do butterflies have good eyesight?


As insects go, butterflies have average eyesight. They do have one advantage over most other insects in that they can see colour. Their colour vision, however, is shifted towards the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, and thus what they see is quite different from what we see. Many flowers have ultraviolet patches on the petals that we cannot see, and these act to attract butterflies and other insects such as bees.


The color of a butterfly can serve many functions, and to better explain these functions we should let the butterflies speak for themselves.


The Anglewing is a good example of camouflage. Note the colourful upper wing surface, and how it contrasts with the dull, mottled patterns of the lower wing surface. If you saw this butterfly sitting motionless on the forest floor, it would be difficult to make out because of the way that the lower wing surface blends in with the leaves, shadows and twigs of its background.

Female butterflies usually are bigger and live longer than male butterflies.


A butterfly has compound eyes: each eye is made up of about 6,000 tiny parts called lenses, which let in light


The Queen Alexandra’s birdwing from the island of New Guinea is the largest butterfly; it can have a wingspan of 11 inches!


Most butterflies make no sound, but some in Florida and Texas make a loud clicking sound with their wings.


Butterflies do not get bigger as they age - a young butterfly is a caterpillar!


The female moth produces a scent that a male moth can smell a mile away.


Butterflies are related to crabs and lobsters! Why? Because like those sea creatures, butterflies have skeletons on the outside of their bodies. They’re arthropods: insects,
crustaceans, millipedes, centipedes and arachnids


Butterflies weigh only as much as two rose petals, but can fly thousands of miles.


Butterflies can’t hear, but they can feel vibrations.




Wondering if what you saw was a butterfly or a moth? This might help:

Active during the day
-Have clubbed antennae
-Rest with their wings folded
-Have slim bodies

-Moths Active at night
-Many have feathery antennae
-Rest with wings open
-Have fat, hairy bodies

More than 750 species of butterflies live in the United States and Canada. All butterflies metamorphose from eggs to caterpillars, then harden into chrysalis for the pupal phase. They then emerge as beautiful winged adult that we admire. In the summer the entire process takes from 5 to 10 week.

Once the springtime temperature reaches 60 degrees, butterflies re-appear and look for spring flowers such as lilac, phlox, rhododendron, and dames's rocket. Butterflies feet have taste receptors that sense sweet liquids. When those receptors find a nectar-laden treasure, they uncoil their tube-like tongues, called proboscises, and dine.

Your garden can make a difference to the shrinking habitat of butterflies. Different flowers arranged at different heights will give shelter and provide nectar that will draw a variety of butterflies. Fill in the outskirts with low growing thymes and sedums.

Butterflies are attracted by varying degrees to a flower's color, shape or smell, but the biggest draw is the nectar. An abundance of flowers will invite butterflies to explore. Flowering plants in large groups are preferable to a few isolated plants here and there.

Situate your butterfly garden in a sheltered area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight. Butterflies can't regulate their body temperature very well, and this gives them a place to bask in the sun.

Butterflies “smell” with their antennae and “taste” with their feet.

The veins on a butterfly’s wing work like supporting bars in a kite.

Butterfly wings get their color from tiny scales. Their wings have 125,000 scales per square inch. Compare that to a human head, which has only about 100 hairs per square inch.

Most butterflies live 20 to 40 days. However, some species live only 3 or 4 days, while a few survive up to 10 months.

Butterfly wings often are brightly colored on top to attract mates or warn predators to stay away. The wing bottoms may be drab for camouflage.

Adult butterflies do not eat—they only drink! They sip liquids from flowers, juice from rotten fruit, and may even drink sweat and liquid animal waste. When a butterfly’s feet come in contact with a sweet liquid, its feeding tube unfolds.

Butterflies like sunny areas that are sheltered from the wind. They are unlikely to fly on cool, overcast days.