- Butterflies are insects, but large scaly wings set them apart. These wings allow them to fly but only when their body temperature is above 86 degrees.
- The fastest butterflies can fly up to 30 miles per hour.
- Scientists estimate that there are 28,000 species of butterflies throughout the world.
- Most butterflies are found in tropical rainforests, but they can live in all climates and altitudes of the world.
- The butterfly does migrate to avoid cold weather.
- Many believe butterflies got their name because they would fly around the buckets of milk on farms. While the milk was being churned into butter, many noticed these flying insects would appear and soon they were being called butterflies.
- Butterflies have three body parts, like all other insects: the head, the thorax (chest), and the abdomen (bottom). The butterfly’s four wings and six legs are attached to the thorax.
- Butterflies are colorful for many reasons. The colors help them attract a mate and absorb heat and the color also helps them blend in among the flowers when they are feeding.
- Butterflies change four times during their lives in a process which is called metamorphosis. They are born as an egg (stage 1). Next they turn into a caterpillar, or larvae (stage 2). This caterpillar will eat constantly – it loves leaves and flowers – and will grow and grow through this stage of its life.
- As the caterpillar grows, it skin will spilt and molt or shed its skin. When the caterpillar has grown several thousand times its original size, it goes into a resting stage. This is when the caterpillar becomes a pupa, or chrysalis (stage 3).
- Finally, the chrysalis breaks open and a butterfly comes out (stage 4). Now the adult butterfly will begin the process all over again by laying eggs of its own.
- Most butterflies live on the nectar and pollen from flowers.
- Butterflies have a long, flexible, tube-like tongue that goes down into the nectar of the flower. They suck the nectar up through this tongue.
- Female butterflies are usually larger than males and they live longer.
- Butterflies can live anywhere from 2 days to 11 months.
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Academy of Natural Sciences: Butterflies
All About Butterflies
All About Butterflies 1
Butterflies and Bugs
Butterflies vs. Moths
Butterflies and Wildflowers
Butterflies North and South
Butterflies of North America
Butterflies of the Carolinas & Virginias
Butterflies of Utah
Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution
Butterfly and Moth Life Cycle
Butterfly Collection at the Field Museum
Butterfly Gardening 1
Children’s Butterfly Site
Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World
eNature.com: Butterfly Species
Foremost’s Butterflies Are Blooming
Give Me a Home Where the Butterflies Roam
Kids’ Corner: Fun Butterflies
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Life Cycle of a Butterfly
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Monarch Butterflies: Join the Migration!
Monarch Watch: Biology
Monarchs and Migration
North American Butterfly Association
Students’ Guide to Butterflies
The Butterfly Conservatory
The Butterfly Farmer
The Butterfly Site
The Monarch Butterfly