Questions About Butterflies|
How many kinds of butterflies are there?
Together butterflies and moths make up one of the larges groups of insects, called Lepidoptera. This group includes more than 165,000 different species, of which 20,000 are types of butterfly and 145,000 are types of moths. In the United States and Canada, more than 750 species of butterflies and 11,000 species of moths have been recorded. Many species of moths and a few kinds of butterflies are still being discovered.
What makes butterflies and moths different?
There is no single, specific difference between butterflies and moths, but rather several general characteristics that differentiate butterflies and moths. The following lists some of these general differences:
-Rest with their wings closed above their body
-Have antennae that look like long threads with a knot at the end
-Usually have thin bodies
-Are brightly colored and very obvious
-Are most active during the day
-In the caterpillar stage, form a hardened chrysalis
-Do not spin silk
-Rest with their wings open on either side of their body
-Have antennae that look like feathers
-Usually have thick hairy bodies
-Have dull colors that camouflage
-Are most active at night
-In the caterpillar stage, make soft cocoons
How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly?
After about a month of eating and growing, a caterpillar is ready to pupate (become a pupa). This is when it transforms into an adult butterfly or moth. Pupae are defenseless so many moth caterpillars spin a silken cocoon around themselves for protection. Many others tunnel into the ground before pupating. Most butterfly pupae are naked, but they are generally well camouflaged or hidden in leaf litter. A cocoon looks lifeless, but inside there is continuous activity as the caterpillar gradually transforms itself. This process, called metamorphosis, can take just a few days, although in some species it may be over a year before the adult insect finally emerges.
How long do butterflies live?
Adult butterflies on average live about two to three weeks, but some species of moths live a mere three or four days.
What do butterflies eat?
Butterflies and moths cannot chew food. Instead, they suck up liquids through their long proboscises (tongues), which act like drinking straws. Their preferred food is nectar. This sugary fluid is produced in the nectarines of the flower in order to attract insects such as butterflies and bees. Most species of butterfly survive on nectar alone and spend most of their brief lives flitting from flower to flower in search of this juice. Some woodland species extract sweet liquids from a wide variety of sources, including rotting fruit and sap oozing from wounds in trees. A few species even suck on dung. However, these sources do not provide much real sustenance, which is why butterflies rarely live for more than a few days.
Is it true that butterflies migrate?
Several types make minor geographical changes with seasons but only one type makes a major migration. The monarchs in North America gather together in a group and fly south in the fall. Those west of the Rocky Mountains go to Southern California while those east of the Rockies go to Mexico. To do this, the migratory generation of adult butterflies live longer than other monarchs (about 2-4 times) instead of the usual 2 weeks. Science cannot explain this phenomenon.
Which predators eat butterflies?
Birds, small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, spiders and predatory insects are all natural predators of butterflies.
How do butterflies communicate?
Butterflies communicate mostly through chemical signals. Males produce pheromones to attract females. A few species communicate with sound produced with its wings.
How do butterflies breathe? Smell?
Adult butterflies, as well as caterpillars, breathe through a series of tiny openings along the sides of their bodies called spiracles. From each spiracle, a tube called a trachea carries oxygen into the body. Butterflies don’t have noses and lungs as we do. Butterflies sense with their antennae.
What are the largest and smallest butterflies?
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera Alexandrae), with a wing span of 28 cm, is found only in the rain forest of New Guinea. Destruction of its habitat is threatening this beautiful creature with extinction.
The smallest butterfly, the Pygmy Blue (Brephidium Exilis), is found in the southern United States. Its wingspan is 15mm.
Where do butterflies go at night?
At night or during bad weather, butterflies will usually hang from the undersides of leaves, or crawl into crevices between rocks or other objects, and sleep.
Questions About Butterfly World
How do you get your butterflies?
Our main supplies are located in Niagara Falls, United Kingdom and Costa Rica. We receive the butterfly pupae individually wrapped in cotton-batten and shipped in Styrofoam boxes. We must receive within 48 hours of shipping otherwise some will pre-emerge and die. Upon arriving at our facility the pupae are inspected and pinned up, as gravity is required to help them emerge. After the butterflies have emerged in our chamber they dry their wings and fly into the garden when they are ready. During the day we must maintain a minimum of 28 degrees Celsius and between 75-80% humidity. In the wild butterflies have a 2% survival rate; in our environment it exceeds 90%.
Will we see caterpillars in the garden?
No, we don’t raise butterflies at Butterfly World. We purchase them from farms in the chrysalis form while they are easy to ship. We incubate them in a special case until they emerge and dry their wings.
How do you stop them from breeding in the garden?
They mate no matter what you do. The female however, chooses whether to lay eggs after she mates. Each species of butterfly caterpillar only eats certain plants (called host plants). The female looks for the specific plant type for her eggs. To do this she uses special taste buds located in her back feet. If she cannot find it she chooses not to lay eggs. No baby food…no babies.
Can we take pictures?
Yes, personal photography is allowed in the garden however, the high humidity causes fogging in some lenses.
How many butterflies do you have?
We have between 20-30 varieties of butterflies and we try to keep over 300 in the garden at all times.
Can I touch the butterflies?
Butterflies are not meant to have human contact as it will shorten their life. When you touch a butterfly, even gently, you remove thousands of scales from their wings. Scales are used to control body temperature. They can also be used for fine flight control creating more flight drag on one side than the other. The scales also give them their beautiful colors and markings which act as a defense against many predators. Touching the butterflies is not permitted at Butterfly World.
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