Last Updated on April 14, 2021
Butterflies have fascinated people for centuries. The vivid hues of their wings, their enchanting life cycle, and their bittersweet end, are the stuff of our art, literature, and music. Butterflies are good indicators of a clean and healthy environment, too. So if you see several fluttering over fields or empty lots, chances are, your surroundings are pretty much fine.
There are about 17,500 species of butterflies. They’re not created the same. There are those that are called ‘Skippers’ because they are relatively small but fly fast. Then there are the ‘Brush-footed’ and the ‘metalmarks’. And of course, the famous family of the swallowtails.
Butterflies in Nature
Butterflies are classified under the suborder Rhopalocera, from the order Lepidoptera, an order of insects that also consist of moths. They develop through a process known as complete metamorphosis, because the young look vastly different from the adult versions. Butterflies go through four main stages of metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
With more than 250,000 species, these colorful winged creatures are valuable in their own right. But did you know that they have been around for at least 50 million years? This makes them not only an important component in our ecosystem, but they also play a vital role in biological research.
Butterfly Meanings in Different Cultures
The butterfly is very symbolic in many cultures. Because of its transformation from egg to adult, it’s often linked with change and transformation. In some cultures, it’s believed that butterflies are reincarnations of loved ones who have passed on. So they welcome these winged insects in their homes and do not hurt them.
There are times when butterflies can appear in dreams. According to the Dalai Lama, this could mean a longing for change, or a need for exploration. In Celtic culture, the creature represents rebirth. This is told through the story of Etain, who was reborn and given a second chance to be with the one she loves.
In Native American lore, these winged insects symbolize joy, colors, and change. Depending on the tribe, the butterfly could be a link to dreams, or a medium of communication for lost loved ones. Even the colors of butterflies hold significant meaning. For example: black may mean death, while yellow signifies hope.
For Mayans and Aztecs, the different butterflies represent their various gods. For instance, a butterfly’s chrysalis is associated with Quetzalcoatl, the god of the morning star, who emerged as a magnificent butterfly, a sign of perfection.
Butterflies in Pop Culture
One of the most popular references to butterflies in pop culture is perhaps, the butterfly effect. The idea is that ‘somewhere, a butterfly flaps its wings, and across the oceans, a storm is formed’. Believe it or not, this was the basis for the chaos theory, a branch of mathematics.
The premise is that no one thing is totally responsible for what happens. Small shifts or changes in the environment, small acts by the people around you, can eventually lead to huge outcomes. According to experts, the butterfly effect is a simple explanation to nature’s complex cause-and-effect relationships.
Who could not fall in love with these heavenly winged creatures? Find yourself lost in thought and reflection when you read these beautiful butterfly quotes.
Beautiful Butterfly Quotes
- “Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.” – Jeffrey Glassberg
- “The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” – George Carlin
- “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach
- “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou
- “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
- “Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves.” – Drew Barrymore
- “As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin
- “Butterflies are self propelled flowers.” – H. Heinlein
- “Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.” – Deborah Chaskin
- “Butterflies are God’s confetti, thrown upon the Earth in celebration of His love.” – D’Angelo
- “The butterflies…What an educated sense of beauty they have. They seem only an ornament to society, and yet, if they were gone, how substantial would be their loss.” – Phil Robinson
- “This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still…” – Joseph Conrad
- “The butterfly is a flying flower, the flower a tethered butterfly.” – Ponce Denis Ecouchard Lebrun
- “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” – Muhammad Ali
- “Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies, it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.” – Stephanie Marshall
- “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” – Richard Buckminster Fuller
- “Butterflies are a breath of beauty fluttering by, they are mystery chronicled upon wing, they bring forth the grace and wonder of this world to our eyes everyday.” – D’Angelo
- “Not quite birds, as they were not quite flowers, mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures.” – Elizabeth Goudge
- “I’d be a butterfly, born in a bower, where roses and lilies and violets meet.” – Thomas Haynes Bayly
- “Awaken to the universes simple gift of the butterfly. Watch with fascination and joy as a jeweled treasure glides by and gently touches your soul.” – D’Angelo
- “With the rose the butterfly’s deep in love, A thousand times hovering round; But round himself, all tender like gold, The sun’s sweet ray is hovering found.” – Heinrich Heine
- “Much converse do I find in thee, Historian of my infancy! Float near me; do not yet depart! Dead times revive in thee: Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art! A solemn image to my heart.” – William Wordsworth
- “The butterfly flits from bloom to bloom, as not to miss one fragrant plume. In her sight exists no garden finale, only paradise of flowered hill and valley.” – D’Angelo
- “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.” – Charles Dickens
- “‘Just living is not enough,’ said the butterfly, ‘one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.’” – Hans Christian Anderson
- “‘How does one become a butterfly?’ she asked pensively. You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” – Trina Paulus
- “Butterflies…flowers that fly and all but sing.” – Robert Frost
- “They seemed to suddenly come upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in a winter wood.” – Edith Wharton
- “Butterflies are perhaps one of the most familiar and endearing groups of insects in the world. Their grace and exquisite beauty have fascinated many people over the centuries, often inspiring a child’s first insight into nature.” – Ross Field
- “…Nine butterflies appear within an hour, not on the wing but in the word, bringing a message of transformation and hope.” – Carol Lynne Pearson
- “There are butterflies in my stomach and I’m feeling full of woe. I think I ate some caterpillars a few days ago.” – Carolyn Argyle
- “Beautiful and graceful, butterflies lift our spirits with their loveliness and lyric flight.” – Gloria B. Schlaepfer
- “Butterflies love to be out in the sunshine, just like people. You can look for them on warm, bright sunny days.” – John Woodward
- “Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.” – Vladimir Nabokov
- “The sound of a million butterflies flapping their wings is indescribable. It’s very heavenly.” – Louie Schwartzberg
- “Run away from the boy that gives you butterflies, he’s going to break your heart.” – Ashley Antoinette
- “The toad beneath the harrow knows exactly where each tooth-point goes; the butterfly upon the road preaches contentment to that toad.” – Rudyard Kipling
- “Americans consider the butterfly a symbol of good fortune and some tribes believe they bring the blessing of sleep and peaceful dreams.” – Tom Frost
- “Some things, when they change, never do return to the way they once were. Butterflies for instance, and women who’ve been in love with the wrong man too often.” – Alice Hoffman
- “When the spirit of nature touches us, our hearts turn into a butterfly.” – Mehmet Murat ildan
- “Your butterfly love just flutters around, from flower to flower, drops their heads to the ground. There’re leaves that fall and wither and die, When your butterfly love comes drifting by.” – Jim Reeves
- “Spread your wings and prepare to fly for you have become a butterfly. Oh fly abandonedly into the sun. If you should return to me, we truly were meant to be. So spread your wings and fly butterfly.” – Mariah Carey
- “Green fields where we used to wander. Purple valleys near my home. We would play there , beneath the sky. And then I kissed you, butterfly.” – Bee Gees
- “Caterpillar in the tree, how you wonder who you’ll be. Can’t go far but you can always dream. Wish you may and wish you might, don’t you worry, hold on tight I promise you there will come a day, butterfly fly away.” – Billy Ray Cyrus
- “There will be butterflies, there will be summer skies. And flowers upthrust, when all that Caesar bids, and all the pyramids are dust.” – Haniel Long
- “Eyes aloft, over dangerous places, the children follow the butterflies, and in the sweat of their upturned faces, slash with a net at the empty skies.” – Rudyard Kipling
- “You give me butterflies that I thought were forever still, and now that I found you, I hope they never will.” – Rita Blooding
- “A poet is also like a butterfly It should not be a victim of adoption. One should only watch, observe. It is the nature of it. It is its life.” – Ehgan Sehgal
- “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. “ – Carl Sagan
- “Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come.” – Mario Quintana
- “Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- “The green grass and the happy skies court the flattering butterflies.” – Terri Guillemets
- “I love that feeling of being in love,the effect of having butterflies when you wake up in the morning. That is special.” – Jennifer Aniston
- “If there is one creature that represents my essence, it’s butterflies.” – Patricia Velasquez
- “Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave. The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him.” – Rabindranath Tagore
- “Do you remember how you felt at seventeen? I do and I don’t (…) Imagine you came from outer space and someone showed you a butterfly and a caterpillar. Would you ever put the two of them together? That’s me and my memories.” – Douglas Coupland
- “I’d be a butterfly; living a rover, Dying when fair things are fading away.” – Thomas Haynes Bayly
- “Go on, hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly. There’s no better way to fly.” – Patrick Monahan
- “Do ye not comprehend that we are worms born to bring forth the angelic butterfly that flieth unto judgment without screen?” – Dante Alighieri
- “Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing.” – Dolly Parton