Facts About Butterflies

Butterflies are free - that is one of the best facts about butterflies!

Beautiful butterflies are a symbol of freedom. They delight our eyes and lift our spirits.

Facts about butterflies, Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly pictureZebra Swallowtail Butterfly

HOW MANY BUTTERFLIES ARE THERE? 

There about 20,000 butterfly species in the world.

We have over 650 species in the United States.

Identify some common Butterfly Types in your backyard.


Fun Facts About Butterflies

Are butterflies insects?

 Yes, butterflies are insects. Insects have three body parts; a head, thorax and abdomen.

They have six legs and four wings attached to their thorax.

There are two wings on each side of their body,
a fore-wing and a hind-wing, a total of four wings.

(Spiders have only two body parts and eight legs.)

How long do butterflies live?

Most butterflies live only a few days to a few weeks.

The Zebra Longwing is a happy exception to this butterfly fact. It eats pollen in addition to flower nectar.

This enables it to live about six months.

The Monarch Butterfly is another exception; they live as long as eight to ten months.

do butterflies have scales?

Yes, butterflies have scales on their wings. No - not like fish scales. The scales are fine as dust and they protect their wings.

One of the most unknown facts about butterflies is their wings are transparent.

The butterfly's color is on their scales. Their color comes from the food their caterpillars ate.

handle butterflies gently

Common Blue Butterflies puddlingCommon Blue Butterflies

Don't try to catch butterflies with your hands. It is best to let a butterfly land on you.

If you do handle butterflies, do it very gently, so you don't rub off their scales.

One of the facts about butterflies is if they lose too many scales, they won't be able to fly.

Butterflies are typically bolder and brighter on the top side of their wings.

Notice the color difference from the top and bottom sides of these Common Blue Butterflies.

Do Butterflies Migrate?

Queen Butterfly migratesQueen Butterfly

One of the interesting facts about butterflies is many migrate between the United States and Mexico.

Painted Ladies travel great distances every year from Canada to Mexico.

Queen Butterflies and Monarchs migrate in huge numbers.

Sulphurs, Buckeyes, Mourning Cloaks, Red Admirals, Question Marks, Gulf Fritillaries and some Skippers migrate in the spring or fall.

Many Hummingbirds Migrate, also.

Facts about butterflies, Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly pictureZebra Swallowtail Butterfly

How many butterflies are there? 

There about 20,000 butterfly species in the world. We have over 650 species in the United States.

Are butterflies insects?  Yes, butterflies are insects.

Insects have three body parts; a head, thorax and abdomen. They have six legs and four wings attached to their thorax.

There are two wings on each side of their body, a fore-wing and a hind-wing, a total of four wings.

(Spiders have two body parts and eight legs.)



How long do butterflies live?  Most butterflies live only a few days to a few weeks.

The Zebra Longwing is a happy exception to this butterfly fact. It eats pollen in addition to flower nectar. This enables it to live about six months.

The Monarch Butterfly is another exception; they live as long as eight to ten months.

Fun Facts About Butterflies

Butterflies have scales on their wings. No - not like fish scales. The scales are fine as dust and they protect their wings.

One of the most unknown facts about butterflies is their wings are transparent.

The butterfly's color is on their scales. Their color comes from the food their caterpillars ate.

handle butterflies gently

Common Blue Butterflies puddlingCommon Blue Butterflies

Don't try to catch butterflies with your hands. It is best to let a butterfly land on you.

If you do handle butterflies, do it very gently, so you don't rub off their scales.

One of the facts about butterflies is if they lose too many scales, they won't be able to fly.

Butterflies are typically bolder and brighter on the top side of their wings.

Notice the color difference from the top and bottom sides of these Common Blue Butterflies.

Do Butterflies Migrate?

Queen Butterfly migratesQueen Butterfly

One of the interesting facts about butterflies is many migrate between the United States and Mexico.

Painted Ladies travel great distances every year from Canada to Mexico.

Queen Butterflies and Monarchs migrate in huge numbers.

Sulphurs, Buckeyes, Mourning Cloaks, Red Admirals, Question Marks, Gulf Fritillaries and some Skippers migrate in the spring or fall.

Many Hummingbirds Migrate, also.

what do butterflies eat?

flower nectar

Florida state butterfly, Zebra Longwing Butterfly pictureZebra Longwing On A Daisy

Florida state butterfly, Zebra Longwing Butterfly pictureZebra Longwing On A Daisy

Butterflies eat flower nectar. While they eat, they pollinate many flowers.

Butterflies have a long snout - a proboscis - that they unroll to reach deep into flowers to suck up the nectar.

Butterflies like to have flowers where they can land and feed sitting down.

Daisies give the butterflies a place to land, as well as lots of butterfly food.

Growing Daisy Flowers

pollen

Butterflies Feed on Our Vegetable Plants, Monarch on MustardMonarch On Mustard

Butterflies Feed on Our Vegetable Plants, Monarch on MustardMonarch On Mustard

Butterflies eat flower nectar, but the Zebra Longwing and a few other butterflies eat pollen.

fruit

Butterflies enjoy cut fruit such as oranges, mangoes and watermelon.

If you have any rotting fruit they would enjoy them, also.

how to attract butterflies

Flowers will attract butterflies because flower nectar is their butterfly food. Here are additional ways of attracting butterflies.

HOST PLANTS attract butterflies

Black Swallowtail CaterpillarCaterpillar On Dill

One of the facts about butterflies is they lay their eggs on plants their caterpillars will eat. So when you have caterpillar host plants in your garden, the butterflies will come.

  • Black Swallowtails like the carrot family like carrot, dill, parsley, fennel and Queen Anne's Lace.
  • Great Spangled Fritillary and Meadow Fritillary like violets.
  • Monarch caterpillars feed on milkweeds.
  • Pearl Crescents like asters.
  • Painted Ladies like daisies, hollyhocks and thistles.
  • Sulphurs like plants in the legume family like clover and alfalfa.
  • Tiger Swallowtails go for trees like aspen, ash, sweet bay, cherry and tulip trees.
  • Zebra Longwing and Gulf Fritillary like passion vines.

Many native plants are also food sources for caterpillars.

Check with your local extension service to find out what butterflies are native to your area and they can tell you what host plants are good for their caterpillars.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

provide a sunny area

Provide a Sunny Area for the butterflies to warm up. Painted Lady ButterflyPainted Lady Warming Up

Provide a Sunny Area for the butterflies to warm up. Painted Lady ButterflyPainted Lady Warming Up

Butterflies don't have the capability of warming their systems.

They need the sun to keep warm. They have to warm up in the mornings.

They like to sit on a rocks to absorb the sun’s warmth.

Mix a rock or two into your butterfly garden where the butterflies can sit and warm up.

Provide Water or Damp Soil

Butterflies don’t drink out of open water. They drink from shallow water or moist soil.

Sulphur Butterflies puddling and getting mineralsSulphurs Puddling

Sulphur Butterflies puddling and getting mineralsSulphurs Puddling

Butterflies enjoy drinking on the edges of a pond where the soil is wet.

Don’t have a pond? Dampen a spot of soil for the butterflies to drink.

Fill a potted plant saucer with sand and keep it damp.

These Sulphur Butterflies are 'puddling' to get minerals from wet soil.

Usually only males puddle to get extra minerals for mating.

Water is the number one way of Attracting Birds.

provide shelter

Butterflies need some protection from bad weather. You probably already have shelter in your yard with trees, shrubs, or hedges.

Protect the butterfly flowers from wind, so the butterflies don't blow away while they're feeding.

Butterflies use shade to cool themselves down from the hot summer sun.

No Pesticides

Red-spotted Purple Butterfly pictureRed-spotted Purple Butterfly

Red-spotted Purple Butterfly pictureRed-spotted Purple Butterfly

Pesticides in your butterfly garden will kill the butterflies we are attracting.

We don’t want to kill the butterflies.

With these few simple steps you can attract butterflies to your garden.

Provide them with some sunny spots to warm up on the cool morning and shade for the hot afternoons.

Invite these gentle beauties to your yard by planting some nectar flowers.

They will thank you for it!

One of the best facts about butterflies is they truly are a wonderful gift from God!








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