Last Updated on January 24, 2023
Have you been considering bringing a pet butterfly into your life but don’t seem to have enough incentives to do so? Well, we highly recommend that you don’t reconsider.
Butterflies are among the most beautiful creatures on God’s green earth. These insects are especially beloved for their adorable wings and graceful movements. They’re also intrinsically valuable, which explains why they’ve been immortalized on numerous emblems as well as works of art and literature.
And as you shall find, living with a butterfly offers a continuous learning opportunity. There’s always some new information to uncover about these gentle insects. The fact that they have a relatively short life expectancy makes every moment spent with them an occasion to relish forever.
But what is it about butterflies that make them so special?
That question shall be the focus of this article. Read below as we unravel the 70 amazing butterfly facts that everyone will love.
1. Butterflies are insects
This may sound like a no-brainer. But it’s an excellent point to begin our collection of fun butterfly facts.
2. Butterflies have three body parts
Like all insects, butterflies have three body parts. They include the head, chest (thorax), and tail end (abdomen).
3. Butterflies can be quite hairy
A butterfly’s body is covered in tiny hairs that act as sensors.
4. Butterflies have an exoskeleton
An exoskeleton is a rigid external covering present in the body of many invertebrates, including insects like butterflies. The opposite is an endoskeleton, which is the internal covering in the body of most vertebrates, particularly mammals.
5. Butterflies have six jointed legs
Another standout feature of all butterflies is that their three pairs of legs feature jointed appendages. The appendages give the insect greater flexibility.
6. Butterflies have a pair of antennae
Antennae are the pointed organs on an insect’s head that help the animal perceive things and navigate its environment. They’re the equivalent of human fingers and noses.
7. Butterflies have compound eyes
Compound eyes are basically eyes made up of several small visual units. They’re common in arthropods, such as insects like butterflies.
8. Butterflies have four wings
This is another easy way to physically identify butterflies.
9. Butterfly wings are adorably-colored
Most butterflies have multi-colored, beautifully-patterned wings.
10. Butterfly wings are scaly too
Butterflies are the only insects with tiny scales on their wings. The scales are normally single-color and can be red, black, yellow, or white.
Origin and Etymology
11. Butterflies are millions of years old
Archaeological evidence uncovered over the years indicate that butterflies may have been in existent for more than 200 million years.
12. Butterflies share evolutionary similarities with moths…..
Butterflies and moths must have come from a common ancestor. No wonder these insects share many striking features.
13. …..But the insects have certain fundamental differences too
Despite traveling along the same evolutionary pathway and sharing numerous features, butterflies aren’t identical to moths. The primary difference between these two insects is that the butterfly is generally larger and tends to fold its wings vertically up over its back. On the other hand, the moth is smaller and generally folds its wings into a tent-like design that conceals its abdomen.
14. The term ‘butterfly’ is steeped in culture
The name ‘butterfly’ is thought to have been derived from two Old German words. The first is “botterlicker” which loosely translates to ‘butter licker’ and the other is “milchdieb” which loosely translates to ‘milk thief.’ According to legends, many cultures in the middle ages believed that butterflies stole butter and milk. That explains why the insects may have gotten their name.
15. The name is steeped in mythology too
In addition to the belief that butterflies had a penchant for stealing milk and butter, some ancient cultures believed that witches would turn into butterfly-like creatures and steal butter or milk. This also explains how the insects might have gotten their name.
16. Butterflies belong in the kingdom Animalia
This is the same kingdom where you’ll find humans and all animals.
17. Butterflies belong in the phylum Arthropoda
Butterflies share the same phylum with arachnids, crustaceans, myriapods, and other insects.
18. Butterflies belong in the class Insecta
As the name implies, this class basically includes insects.
19. Butterflies belong in the order Lepidoptera
The name ‘Lepidoptera’ derives from a Greek word that means ‘scaly-winged.’ That pretty much sums up what butterfly wings look like.
20. Butterflies fall into diverse families
There are at least 5 butterfly families. Notable ones include Hedyloidea, Papilionoidea, Hesperiidae, Riodinidae, Pieridae, Papilionidae, Nymphalidae, and Lycaenidae.
21. There are hundreds of butterfly genera
Scientists believe that there could be as many as 200 different butterfly genera.
22. There are even more butterfly species out there
On average, there are 20,000 butterfly species worldwide.
Habitat and Distribution
23. Butterflies prefer warmer climates
That explains their vast presence across Africa, Central and South America, and southern Asia.
24. Butterfly distribution by continent
Most of the world’s butterflies are found in South America, particularly in the Amazon rainforest.
25. Butterfly distribution by country
Although nearly 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil with only 10% on the Colombian side, Colombia has the highest number of butterfly species in the world.
26. There are no butterflies in Antarctica
Antarctica’s sub-zero temperatures make the continent inhabitable for butterflies (and many other creatures).
27. There are very few butterflies in Iceland
Iceland is the country with the least butterfly population in the world.
28. Wild butterflies thrive better in grasslands and heathlands
These also happen to be the ideal habitats for wildflowers, the butterfly’s primary food source.
29. Moths are more widespread than butterflies
The butterfly’s closest cousin, the moth, is globally more widespread.
30. Moths outnumber butterflies too
Moths far outnumber butterflies, with up to 140,000 species recorded so far.
31. Butterflies don’t hibernate
Butterflies don’t hibernate. However, they overwinter in their larval stages.
32. Butterflies don’t aestivate either
However, butterflies can trigger various physiological processes to reduce metabolism and development during aestivation (also known as summer dormancy.)
33. Butterflies are considered threatened
That’s mainly due to their fast-dwindling habitats, increasing predation, and climate change.
34. Butterflies are generally not a menace
Well, except when they’re in their creepy larval stage.
Feeding and Predation
35. Butterflies are herbivores
Like most insects, butterflies feed almost exclusively on plant matter.
36. Sweet nectar constitutes the butterfly’s primary diet
Most butterflies live exclusively on a liquid diet, much of which comes from sweet nectar.
37. Some species prefer the liquid from rotting fruit
Notable mentions here include the Mourning Cloak butterfly and the Question Mark butterfly.
38. Butterflies can be occasionally cannibalistic
While a butterfly won’t hunt down a fellow butterfly, these insects are known to drink the liquid of other decaying animals, including their own kind.
39. Butterflies cannot eat anything
That’s right! Instead, they can only drink using a tube-like protrusion called a proboscis.
40. Butterflies have numerous predators…..
Ants, wasps, dragonflies, lizards, toads, rats, snakes, and even monkeys are just some of the many butterfly predators.
41. …..But humans remain their biggest threat
This is due to habitat loss caused by human activities like urbanization.
42. Butterflies are a delicacy in some countries
Mexico is among the several countries where a butterfly is very likely to pop up on the menu.
Lifespan and Life Cycle
43. Most butterflies barely live to be a month old
2 – 3 weeks is the butterfly’s average life expectancy.
44. Some butterfly species won’t even last a week…..
The Coppers and Small Blues butterflies are known to live for only a couple of days.
45. …..But others can live much longer
The Brimstone Butterfly is the longest-living butterfly species. It’s able to live up to 13 months.
46. Butterflies undergo four developmental stages
They include Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult.
47. The larval stage is where the butterfly exists as caterpillars…..
Yes, those wriggly creepers on your backyard trees will only be there for a short spell.
48. …..This stage is also marked by feeding frenzies
A butterfly emerges from the egg when very ravenous. No wonder caterpillars can easily make quick work of plant leaves.
49. A butterfly’s life expectancy is measured from the first day as an adult
Which means caterpillars aren’t technically born yet.
Sensory Perception, Locomotory Habits, and Common Preferences
50. Butterflies can see up to 200 meters away
That’s way less sharp than a human’s visual acuity, which can be several kilometers away.
51. Butterflies can almost see their rear
Due to their enormous eyes, butterflies have a range of vision up to 314 degrees.
52. Butterflies excel humans at perceiving fast-moving objects
No wonder these insects can often give their predators a run for their money.
53. Butterflies can perceive ultraviolet and polarized light too
Another area where the gorgeous butterfly outshines humans!
54. Butterflies are diurnal insects
You’re unlikely to stumble upon these graceful insects in pitch black.
55. Butterflies can’t see in the dark
Since butterflies are diurnal, evolution hasn’t prepared them for seeing in the dark.
56. Butterflies possess ears
However, it’s unclear how sharp their ears are.
57. Butterflies don’t have tongues…..
As they only have proboscises for mouths, it makes sense why butterflies don’t have tongues.
58. …..But they can taste
While they’re tongueless, butterflies have taste buds. Most of their taste buds are surprisingly on their feet, with others on their proboscises and antennae.
59. Butterflies can smell
The sense of smell is by far the most advanced of a butterfly’s five senses. Like most insects, a butterfly’s antennae are responsible for most of its smell.
60. Butterflies can travel thousands of miles
Certain butterfly species, such as the painted lady butterfly, can fly up to 2500 miles at a time.
61. Butterflies are attracted to anthropogenic lighting
This trait makes them an easy target for predators that hunt within human settlements.
62. Butterflies are also attracted to bright colors
Another factor that makes butterflies easy to nail. Most predators would simply wait for these insects on brightly-colored, fragrant flowers. They ?specially prefer red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple.
63. Butterflies are attracted to water too
That explains why these insects are a common sight around ponds, fountains, birtbaths, etc.
64. The same applies to fire
All insects, including butterflies, are drawn to the ultraviolet rays produced by fire.
65. Some butterfly species love the smell of blood…..
Hemotropic Butterflies, in particular, are drawn to the scent of blood.
66. …..Others adore poop
The taste and smell of poop, including human poop, are among the butterfly’s top favorites. Feeding on human feces can be a huge problem in places with poor sanitation, as it could lead to contamination.
67. Butterflies represent change
Prepare for imminent transformation if swarms of butterflies keep hanging around your yard. That’s especially if you’ve been going through rough patches in your life and praying for deliverance.
68. Butterflies also resonate with beauty and elegance
Considered one of the most gorgeous and graceful insects, it’s unsurprising why butterflies resonate with beauty and elegance.
69. Seeing butterflies could symbolize spiritual transformation
According to Irish folklore, the butterfly represents the souls of the dead awaiting passage to Purgatory. Therefore, bumping into butterflies could be a reminder to straighten your ways as your life in this world may be nearing its end.
70. Butterflies can grant wishes
An American Indian legend claims that butterflies can grant wishes. All you need to do is capture the insect, whisper your wish to it, then release it back and wait for your heart’s desires to come true.
There’s so much to learn about butterflies that we cannot possibly exhaust that information in one post.
However, we hope this article will be your first port of call when looking for cool butterfly facts to make you fall in love with these insects once more.