Butterflies are magnificent products of the metamorphosis event that stirs our hearts every time we see it.
On nature walks, our eyes look for butterflies everywhere.
How much do we know about the butterflies we want to see and admire so much?
More importantly, how much accurate information do we have? For example, the information that butterflies, which continue to spread from ear to ear, have a lifespan of one day is a myth.
Adult butterflies can live from 1 week to 1 year.
No butterfly species that lived a single day has been encountered.
Butterflies are in the order Lepidoptera, belonging to the insect class, which is in the arthropod branch of the animal kingdom.
Moths are also included in this group.
There are around 20,000 species of butterflies.
They can be observed anywhere in the world except Antarctica.
The word Lepidoptera means scaly wings in Greek. If you look very carefully, you can see these scaly shapes on the wings of butterflies, these are hairs with flattened and enlarged ends.
Did you know that butterflies, like all other insects, have six legs and a main body consisting of three parts (head, thorax (middle part) and abdomen (tail tip)), as well as two antennae and two eyes?
Butterflies have a great importance in the plant world.
They help fruits, vegetables and flowers produce new seeds by carrying pollen from plant to plant.
From the point of view of the animal world, butterflies are near the bottom of the food chain.
They become food for birds, mammals, and other insects (especially when in the caterpillar stage).
Butterflies are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot adapt their body temperature to the environment and cannot fly when their body temperature is low.
Butterflies that cannot withstand winter conditions can hibernate in sheltered places.
They use parts of trees such as bark and stumps as their wintering grounds.
They can hibernate at any stage (egg, larva, pupa or adult), but usually each species is dormant in only one stage.
What Will We Learn?
How Long Do Caterpillars Live?
Caterpillars usually live two to five weeks after hatching, although this time varies by season and species.
Caterpillars are notorious for eating a lot and can grow very quickly in the larval stage.
How Long Do Butterflies Live?
There are 200 thousand butterfly species known in the world and the average life span of these butterfly species is between 2 and 6 weeks.
The frequently used word “butterflies live for 1 day” is not true.
They spend most of their lives as caterpillars.
Life Cycle Of Butterflies
There are four stages in the life cycle of butterflies and these cycles are listed below:
- larva (caterpillar)
- pupa (chrysalis or cocoon)
This process of change is called metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis begins when female butterflies lay their pinhead-sized eggs on a leaf.
The reason they leave it on the leaves is that the leaves are a food source for the caterpillars.
The egg period in butterflies lasts a few days and caterpillars emerge from the broken eggs.
During the spawning period, which lasts about two weeks, the caterpillars molt four or five times.
In the pupal stage, the caterpillar hangs itself upside down on a leaf to form a shell and stays in this cocoon for about 1 week.
Some butterfly species may hibernate as pupae, which can take more than a year, depending on the species.
The butterfly emerges from the cocoon, pumps blood to its wings, and begins to fly within an hour or two after drying.
What Do Butterflies Eat And Drink?
While in the caterpillar stage, they tear off leaves and other plant parts with their mouths, chew and grind them with their jaws.
Caterpillars do not need to drink water, as they get everything they need from the plants they eat.
Unlike caterpillars, butterflies can roam around and search for suitable food in larger areas.
Most butterflies prefer flower nectar and usually feed on a variety of liquids.
Butterflies do not have mouths, but instead have proboscis-like tubes (two).
Also, their sense of taste is in their feet.
First, they control the food with their feet and then they absorb the liquids with these tubes.
Butterflies close the proboscis in their mouths by spiraling them when they are not using them.
How Do Butterflies Mate?
Male butterflies look for female butterflies with the correct color and pattern of wings.
When a male butterfly sees a female butterfly suitable for mating, it starts flying near the female.
The male butterfly begins to flap its wings more than usual, releasing special chemicals called pheromones.
They can also do a special dance.
If the female butterfly is interested, she will join the male butterfly’s dance.
During the mating process, the male sperm passes to the female.
The eggs are fertilized by the sperm as they pass through the female oviposition.
Male butterflies often die after mating. Head of the Lepidoptera section at the Natural History Museum in London, Dr. Alberto Zilli says:
“Colorful wings are a sign for other butterflies. It makes it possible for insects to recognize their own species in a complex habitat. Colors also allow them to distinguish between males and females, which is vital in butterflies’ search for mates.”
Since colors do not work in the dark, butterflies flying at night use acoustic and chemical signals to reach other butterflies.
Both males and females emit scents to communicate with each other. Zilli says:
“In many species, the male must perform a dance before the female allows the male to approach. The male flies gracefully around a female and flaps his .faster to ensure that her scent reaches the female.”
How Far Can Butterflies Fly?
The wings of butterflies are very strong, they have wings of many different types and colors.
While the wide wings glide for a long time, the thin wings can fly fast and move very quickly.
Some types of butterflies can fly incredible distances.
They can migrate more than 5,000 kilometers to spend the winter in a warmer place.
The Monarch Butterfly travels 3,200 kilometers, flying from North America to Mexico before the cold comes in the fall.
During this journey that will take about two months, they feed on nectar and migrate to a milder climate.
Some researchers think butterflies find their way using the Sun’s position as a compass, while others think they can determine their direction by detecting changes in light waves filtering through clouds.
Millions of butterflies travel south each year and head north again in the spring to breed.
What Time Of Year Butterflies Die?
Butterflies that want to hibernate spend energy to find the right environment.
As a result of their energy depletion, they sleep early and butterflies that sleep early may die.
One of the lesser-living butterfly species is the painted lady butterfly (live between 15 and 25 days).
They are the most common butterfly species in the world and can be found on all continents.
The rumors among the people are wrong because, on the contrary, butterflies live longer, not 1 day.
Some species of butterflies can have a much longer adult life span.
The longest living butterfly species is the mourning cloak, but even that doesn’t live longer than a year.
Some species migrate in winter, eg Madison (This butterfly migrates twice a year)
Body parts (especially muscles) degenerate at the end of the larval stage and are replaced by new muscles associated with the adult stage.
Monarch butterflies in the United States migrate south during the winter.
Female butterflies prefer to lay her eggs on a plant that will provide proper nutrition for the larvae when they hatch.
Some butterfly eggs overwinter as eggs.
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