There are so many different kinds of butterfly around the world that an exact number is not known but it’s guesstimated at 17,500 and they all start in the same as a tiny white egg upon a fresh green leaf.
Metamorphosis is the process that takes place for a butterfly egg to transform fully.
First the egg develops into a caterpillar and then after the caterpillar has fed enough and finished growing, it forms a pupa around itself and in just four weeks the pupa opens up into a beautiful butterfly.
Butterflies are brightly coloured and fly by day. They have clubbed antennae and their wings are the most important body part as they are made up of tiny scales, like roof tiles.
Each scale is filled with individual colours which either attract fellow butterflies or warn predators.
A butterfly wing is actually transparent as it is formed by layers of chitin, the protein that makes up an insect’s exoskeleton.
Most butterflies are born, live and die in one place. Except for the monarch butterfly which flies south during the winter in search of warmer weather. They fly approximately 1,180 miles in three weeks.
Butterfly taste with their feet as they have tiny receptors which allow them to “taste” the food they are standing on, mainly nectar from flowers and sometimes, mainly the males will drink from mud puddles to get the minerals they need.
Butterflies can only fly when they are warm but as they are cold-blooded animals, they can’t regulate their own body temperature and rely on the surrounding air temperatures.
Butterflies have a very short live span only up to 2-4 weeks. In this short time they concentrate on eating and mating.
The larger butterflies like the monarchs and the mourning cloaks last a little longer, up to nine months.
Finally is the way a butterfly camouflages itself from being eaten. Some will fold their wings to blend into the background whilst others will wear vibrant colours and patterns to boldly show their presence.
Some brightly coloured insects often have a toxic punch if eaten so predators tend to leave them alone.
Although most butterflies are not toxic, they mimic the pattern after the other species known for their toxicity which will normally repel predators.