Category Butterflies

Why is my butterfly not eating?

Butterflies don’t eat; that only drink. Though caterpillars constantly eat, once they turn into butterflies, they only drink liquids, primarily nectar from flowers and juices from fruits. Butterflies drink using a proboscis – a tube that works like a straw – because of which they stick to an all-liquid diet.

They do need other nutrients like nitrogen, salts and amino acids. These can be found in tree sap, wet soil and flower pollen. Somewhat less appealing, they can also get these nutrients from rotten fruit or vegetables, faeces, urine, sweat, tears and (the least attractive of all) rotting carcasses!

These nutritional needs stem from the caterpillar’s food. Plants have almost none of the salts that all animals need. Even plant eating mammals like horses and cows need salts – this is also why plants need fertilizers.


Picture Credit : Google

What are known as woodland butterflies?

Because of the variety of food sources, more species of butterfly are found in woodlands than in any other habitat.

      Some species of butterfly can be found flying at a low level in shady woodland clearings, while others live high among the treetops. Other species of butterfly live along woodland edges, and in areas where people have cleared forests.

    Some of the examples are The Acadian Hairstreak, the Purple hairstreak, the speckled wood and the comma etc. other examples are the White Admiral, large Tortoiseshell, and the silver-washed Fritillary.

What are temperate butterflies?

The word ‘temperate’ is used to describe those are as on Earth where temperature is modest.

       The wide variety of flowers in grassland and woodland clearings means that there are plenty of butterflies.

     The caterpillars of grassland butterflies feed on grass found in meadows, and heath lands. There are many varieties of grassland butterflies. Most popular among them are meadow brown, the Aphrodite, the purple shot copper, the Adonis blue etc. the wall butterfly is another grass feeding species commonly found in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Why is the super family Papilionoidea unique?

The butterfly super family known as Papilionoidea consists of five families. They are named Papilionoidea, pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae. In other words, all the butterflies except skippers come under this super family.

      The Papilionoidea family members are collectively known as swallowtails. Butterflies in the Pieridae family are whites, orange tips, brimstones and sulphurs. The majority of them are either red or brown or blue in colour.

     The third family, Lycaenidae, is the largest family of all with some 6000 or more species. They are mostly found in tropical areas, but they can be seen in other parts of the world too.

     The fourth sub family Nymphalidae is also very large, like the third subfamily with more than 6000 species.

How are butterflies classified?

Although butterflies are one of the most widely studied insect groups, there is no uniform method to classify them.

        The Symposium of the Royal Entomological Society of London subdivided butterflies into two super-families – the Hesperioidea and the Papilionoidea.

       The first group that is the Hesperioidea has only one family. Skippers as they popularly known, are very good fliers. They are called so because of their ability to fly very fast. They are very similar to moths. Many skippers are dull in colour, like moths. Their larvae feed on a lot of food plants. They rest as pupa in the cocoon, where pieces of dried up leaves are mixed.

What are the physical defense mechanisms commonly employed by butterflies?

Some butterflies have physical defenses. This behavior is common among caterpillars in temperate countries. An example of such a caterpillar is the Nymphalis. If somebody disturbs such caterpillars, they react in unison by lifting their heads up, and thrashing them from side to side to display anger. This method is useful in scaring smaller predators.

      Spines are also an important part of butterflies’ that they use to defend themselves from other wasps and flies. Aposematism or denoting colouration or markings that serves to warn the markings that serves to warn the predators is another good way to frighten away enemies

        The common Mormon of India has female morphs which imitate the unpalatable red-bodies swallowtails, the common rose, and the crimson roes.

Why do some butterflies mimic their neighboring species?

Some butterfly species mimic their neighboring poisonous species to ward off the predators. They often mimic their neighboring species by copying the latter’s colour pattern, along with producing an unpleasant smell and taste.

        Birds and other predators that are familiar with the warning patterns or bright colours of the harmful species mistake these imitator butterflies for their harmful counterparts and go away.

        One such species of butterflies which is good at mimicking is the Ecuador small postman butterfly, which imitates its equally poisonous rainforest neighbor the Ecuador postman butterfly.

What are the main food items of a butterfly?

Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. They suck nectar and other liquids through a small pipe under their heads. This small pipe is called ‘proboscis’. They sip water from damp patches for hydration, and feed on nectar from flowers to obtain sugar for energy.

       Some butterflies get nourished by pollen, tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, and dissolved minerals in wet sand, or dirt. Butterflies are pollinators for some species of plants.

      Usually, they do not carry as much pollen load as bees. However, they are capable of transporting pollen over a great distance.

       Some butterflies visit only certain flowers, and avoid others. This phenomenon is called flower constancy. Attracted by the salt in human sweat, sometimes butterflies even land on people.

How do butterflies defend themselves from their enemies?

Butterflies protect themselves from predators through the plants to protect themselves from enemies. This has led to the evolution of bright colours in unpalatable butterflies.

      Camouflage is another technique that butterflies use to escape from their enemies. Camouflage is the technique of blending with the colour of the surrounding to hide from enemies.

      We all might have seen butterflies that look like the leaf of a tree, or a twig in a branch. Such varieties as the oak leaf butterfly and autumn leaf butterfly use this camouflage technique.

     Some others have deimat-ic behavior, such as waving their front ends marked with eyespots as if they were snakes.

What is the flight style of a butterfly?

Butterflies are very good fliers. They have two pairs of large wings covered with scales. Their wings are attached to the thorax. Veins support the wings, and ensure the blood supply.

      Butterflies can fly only if their body temperature is above sudden landings. Speed varies among butterfly species. Poisonous varieties are slower than non-poisonous varieties.