Daily Flutter

 

Daily Flutter

 


BUTTERFLY FACTS

 


FLIGHT & WING FACTS

 


MOTH FACTS

 


CATERPILLAR FACTS

 


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Butterflies charm our eyes with their captivating colors and the graceful dance of their fluttering wings, but there is more to these amazing creatures than just their beauty.

- Thomas Marent


Wing Facts

  • Even the longest living butterflies only spend a few short months as a butterfly – the rest of their life is devoted to being a caterpillar and metamorphosis.
  • The Lepidoptera order (which includes butterflies) is the fourth largest order of insects.
  • In some butterfly species, female butterflies only rarely occur in nature.
  • There are 165,000 described species of butterflies and moths found throughout tropical rainforest and artic tundra.
  • There are six families of butterflies – the skippers and the five families of true butterflies.
  • Moths account for more than 90 of the 100 butterfly families and 90 percent (around 150,000) of the species as well.
  • Butterflies evolved from moths.
  • The rare Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera Alexandrae) from Papua New Guinea is the largest butterfly in the world – it sports a wingspan of ten inches.
  • The world’s smallest butterfly is a Lycaenidae – the Western Pygmy Blue (Bephidium Exilis) and is about the size of a human thumbnail.
  • In Medieval times, butterflies were called flutter-bys because of their unusual flying patterns caused by this offset beating pattern. Their zigzag fluttering makes their flight path unpredictable and serves to protect them from predators.
  • Butterflies need sunlight in order to fly – their bodies must maintain a temperature of about 53 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius or their flying muscles will not function properly.
  • Eyespots protect butterflies because birds will attack the eyespot first. Since butterflies can fly with up to 70% of their wings missing, a detached eyespot will still allow the butterfly to escape to safety.
  • Some eyespots are hidden from view until the forewing is pushed forward so that red eyes appear and surprise the predator long enough to make an escape.
  • Swallowtails on butterflies protect them from predators because the tails resemble necks and attract the birds first attack
  • 20% of all butterfly species are found in Peru
  • Pilots have reported seeing Monarch Butterflies as high as 10,000 feet!
  • Butterflies are sensitive to a wider spectrum of colors than humans. Each eye is made of up to 17,000 hexagonal facets – each one a separately functioning eye. Their eyes are highly sensitive to color but cannot distinguish details very well.
  • Antennae are the main organs for smelling but they are also sensitive to vibrations in the air. They also play an important role in courtship – they help the butterfly or moth to find their mates.
  • The function of the bulbous end of the antennae is unknown. Some entomologists speculate that they assist in flight navigation.
  • Most butterflies survive on a purely liquid diet. They feed through their proboscis, a tube-like tongue that coils when not in use. The butterfly has to forcibly move the proboscis in order to straighten it for feeding.
  • While butterflies feed mostly on nectar or sap, they also feed on liquid waste from other creatures in order to get minerals essential for survival.
  • Some butterflies sprinkle "love dust" on their prospective mates while courting.
  • The Monarch (Danaus Plexippus) migrates 1,800 miles (3,000 km) annually – they fly from Mexico to a home east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Most butterflies do not live more than a month – although some species live up to one year, most of their lives are dormant or inactive. Otherwise, 90 days is considered a very lengthy lifespan.
  • Morpho butterflies may be important because they disperse fungal spores.
  • The Lepidoptera order (which includes butterflies and moths) is the fourth largest order of insects.
  • Lepidoptera is derived from the Greek word for scale or wing because the most obvious feature that separates them from other insects is their scaled wings.
  • Sensors on female butterfly feet help her to identify specific plants that they need to be host plants for their eggs.
  • Most male butterflies are more colorful than female butterflies.
  • Special bristles on the hind wings of moths hold the wings together for flight. In some species, these hooks are very strong and keep the wings from separating. Some very few butterflies have this same feature.
  • Butterfly hind wings overlap (from underneath) the fore wings so that they can support the fore wings in flight.
  • There are four stages in the life of a butterfly: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly.
  • Most butterfly eggs are laid on specific host plants; however, some butterflies lay their eggs in flight – particularly butterflies whose caterpillars feed on grass.
  • When courting, butterflies may remain attached for twenty minutes while others may remain attached for as long as twenty-four hours.
  • Some caterpillars, pupae, and butterflies shut down their metabolism and hibernate during winter months. Many others overwinter as eggs.
  • The top butterfly speed is 12 mph.
  • Monarchs journey 2,000 miles from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico ... and then back!
  • Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees.
  • Egyptian frescoes at Thebes show the first recorded pictures of butterflies - 3,500 years ago!
  • Antartica is the only continent where butterflies are not found.
  • Gonepterix Rhamni boasts the longest lifespan among butterflies - 9-10 months.
  • Some butterflies can taste with their feet - this helps females to determine which leaves are good for her caterpillars to lay eggs on.
  • Some Nymphalidae species flap and glide to fly rather than flutter.
  • The butter-colored fly in England is responsible for the transmutation of the medieval word flutter-by or flutter-bies into butterfly – a shortened version of butter-colored fly. 

Caterpillar Facts

  • Even the longest living butterflies only spend a few short months as a butterfly – the rest of their life is devoted to being a caterpillar and metamorphosis.
  • The Bird Cherry Ermine Moth (Yponomeuta Evonymella) live communally as caterpillars and spin so much silk that a community of them can cover an entire tree.
  • Some caterpillars are so poisonous that they can kill humans by injecting a poison into the skin that causes brain hemorrhaging.
  • Most butterflies do not live more than a month – although some species live up to one year, most of their lives are dormant or inactive. Otherwise, 90 days is considered a very lengthy lifespan.
  • Luna moths have no mouth parts at all and therefore cannot feed as adults – they have to survive off of nutrition stored in their bodies as a caterpillar.
  • There are four stages in the life of a butterfly: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly.
  • Most butterfly eggs are laid on specific host plants; however, some butterflies lay their eggs in flight – particularly butterflies whose caterpillars feed on grass.
  • Caterpillars first eat the hard shell of their eggs and then begin eating their host plant.
  • Caterpillars defend themselves from predators in many ways: some hiss, some spit formic acid, some release repulsive smells, some have false eyes, some have horns, some have alarming tail whips, and many develop camouflages.
  • Some caterpillars sleep while wrapping a leaf around themselves to hide from predators.
  • Some moth caterpillars are so hairy that they are referred to as woolly bears.
  • Caterpillars shed their skin like snakes do – the last shedding creates the chrysalis (butterfly) or cocoon (moth).
  • Case Moth caterpillars build a case around themselves that they always carry with them - it is made of silk and pieces of plands or soil.
  • Caterpillars of some Snout Moths (Pyralididae) live in or on water-plants
  • The chrysalis of some butterflies is spun from a single thread of silk.
  • Most pupae are well camouflaged (as dry leaves, twigs, fresh buds, etc.) to protect the butterfly from predators because the pupa cannot move. Other pupae are covered with prickly spines and others advertise poisonous contents.
  • Antennae are light receptors and they are sensitive to magnetic fields, which helps them with migration.
  • Antennae, apart from being light receptors, serve as odor sensors.
  • Some species of butterflies pupate underground, within plant roots, or even inside ants nests!
  • The pupae of swallowtails use camouflage resembling bird droppings to protect them from predators!
  • Some caterpillars, pupae, and butterflies shut down their metabolism and hibernate during winter months. Many others overwinter as eggs.

Moth Facts

  • There are 165,000 described species of butterflies and moths found throughout tropical rainforest and artic tundra.
  • Moths account for more than 90 of the 100 butterfly families and 90 percent (around 150,000) of the species as well.
  • Butterflies evolved from moths.
  • Scientists believe that there are many undiscovered species of moths.
  • Hawk moths can beat their wings powerfully enough to hover in the air like hummingbirds.
  • The world’s largest moth is the Attacus Atlas of southeast Asia – a species within the Saturnidae family – and is almost as large as a pair of human hands – they are sometimes mistaken for bats at nighttime and the flapping of their wings is almost audible to human ears.
  • The resting position of the wings of moths is referred to as airplane position.
  • Antennae are the main organs for smelling but they are also sensitive to vibrations in the air. They also play an important role in courtship – they help the butterfly or moth to find their mates.
  • Some moths can fly up to 25mph!
  • Females of some moth species lack wings - all they can do to move is crawl.
  • The Morgan Sphynx moth from Madagascar has a proboscis 12-14 inches long to get the nectar from the deep orchid.
  • Some moths never eat as adults because they don't have mouths - they have to live on energy stored as caterpillars.
  • The Lepidoptera order (which includes butterflies and moths) is the fourth largest order of insects.
  • Lepidoptera is derived from the Greek word for scale or wing because the most obvious feature that separates them from other insects is their scaled wings.
  • Luna moths have no mouth parts at all and therefore cannot feed as adults – they have to survive off of nutrition stored in their bodies as a caterpillar.
  • Some hawk moths have a proboscis (tongue) that is as long as its entire body.
  • Special bristles on the hind wings of moths hold the wings together for flight. In some species, these hooks are very strong and keep the wings from separating. Some very few butterflies have this same feature.
  • Some moth caterpillars are so hairy that they are referred to as woolly bears.

Butterfly Facts

  • Hawk moths can beat their wings powerfully enough to hover in the air like hummingbirds.
  • The world\'s largest moth is the Attacus Atlas of southeast Asia - a species within the Saturnidae family - and is almost as large as a pair of human hands - they are sometimes mistaken for bats at nighttime and the flapping of their wings is almost audible to human ears.
  • The rare Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera Alexandrae) from Papua New Guinea is the largest butterfly in the world - it sports a wingspan of ten inches.
  • The scales of butterfly wings are flexible and self-cleaning!
  • Butterfly wing colors often change hue - or even color - when wet.
  • Pigments of the scales on their wings come either from chemical pigments such as melanin or from plants and waste that build up during metamorphosis.
  • Butterfly wing scales are formed by bulbous, modified feathers.
  • Depending on the spacing between the scales of a butterfly\'s wings, reflective light waves interface to the degree that some wavelengths are cancelled out while others are enhanced - like the patterns on a soap bubble.
  • When emerging from the chrysalis, a butterflys wings are soft and flexible. If it does not extend the wings soon enough or wide enough, they will harden with folds that will cripple the butterfly and keep it from being able to fly the rest of its life. The drying process only takes about an hour.
  • Each wing moves in a slightly circular fashion with the hind wing subtly behind the fore wing - which creates the fluttering effect of butterflies. The pattern of the veins vary from species to species but the patterns usually remain the same within each family.
  • In Medieval times, butterflies were called flutter-bys because of their unusual flying patterns caused by this offset beating pattern. Their zigzag fluttering makes their flight path unpredictable and serves to protect them from predators.
  • Butterflies need sunlight in order to fly - their bodies must maintain a temperature of about 53 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius or their flying muscles will not function properly.
  • Eyespots protect butterflies because birds will attack the eyespot first. Since butterflies can fly with up to 70% of their wings missing, a detached eyespot will still allow the butterfly to escape to safety.
  • Some eyespots are hidden from view until the forewing is pushed forward so that red eyes appear and surprise the predator long enough to make an escape.
  • The resting position of the wings of moths is referred to as airplane position.
  • Pilots have reported seeing Monarch Butterflies as high as 10,000 feet!
  • The Monarch (Danaus Plexippus) migrates 1,800 miles (3,000 km) annually - they fly from Mexico to a home east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Lepidoptera is derived from the Greek word for scale or wing because the most obvious feature that separates them from other insects is their scaled wings.
  • Special bristles on the hind wings of moths hold the wings together for flight. In some species, these hooks are very strong and keep the wings from separating. Some very few butterflies have this same feature.
  • Butterfly hind wings overlap (from underneath) the fore wings so that they can support the fore wings in flight.
  • Most butterfly eggs are laid on specific host plants; however, some butterflies lay their eggs in flight - particularly butterflies whose caterpillars feed on grass.
  • Some Nymphalidae species flap and glide to fly rather than flutter.