Butterflies, or Lepidoptera - a detachment of flying insects, numbering more than 158 thousand species. This is one of the largest groups of insects, and it is assumed that about 100 thousand species are still unknown to science, which makes it possible to conclude that there are more than 200 thousand species of butterflies on our planet. They are distributed practically throughout the world (with the exception of Antarctica).
The wingspan for different species of butterflies is from 0.4 to 31 cm. The largest representatives of the order are Titania Agrippina and the Queen Alexandra Birdwing, the wingspan of both reaches 31 cm. On average, the sizes of butterflies rarely exceed 5-10 cm, especially if we talk about Europe and Russia.
The development of Lepidoptera occurs with complete transformation. Larvae (caterpillars) hatch from eggs, develop, grow (eating vegetation), and then turn into pupae, from which beautiful butterflies hatch.
Lepidoptera have a typical body structure for insects, consisting of 3 segments: a small head, chest and abdomen. The body is covered with a solid chitinous cover that performs protective and supportive functions. There are facet eyes and a pair of antennae (pick up odors and vibrations of the air). Insect wings are usually covered with small flat scales, for which the squad got its name.
The appearance, patterns and color of the wings of different types of butterflies can vary greatly. In the process of evolution, some species have received the color of the wings, merging with their habitat, which increases the survival of insects. Other species, on the contrary, stand out in the area with their bright color. And in some species, the color may even be optical (it depends on the refraction of light). There are so many variations in the color of insect wings that it is not possible to distinguish something common among all species. It is because of this that butterflies have achieved such popularity. They are considered one of the most beautiful insects on the planet.
Most lepidoptera species have a daytime lifestyle. They feed on flower nectar, pollen, fruits (usually overripe and rotting), tree sap, honey, etc. Among butterflies and predators, although this is very rare. They feed mainly on the blood of large animals (pierce the skin with a proboscis).
Several hundred species of butterflies are characterized by migration during the season. Combining in huge flocks, they make long flights over long distances (usually to warmer places). It looks amazing!
The role of butterflies in nature
Butterflies play an important role in food chains. True, in most of them they are given the unenviable fate of food. These insects are included in the diet of birds, reptiles, small mammals, parasitic insects, amphibians, etc. For the natural balance, even such a role is very important, the extinction of butterflies can lead to the extinction of other animal species.
In addition, butterflies also pollinate plants, which is also important for humans. Thanks to pollination, the flowering and ripening of fruits, vegetables, berries and some cereals occurs. True, it is worth noting that the main role in pollination of plants is played by bees, and butterflies only help them in this. But still, they are contributing to this process.
Unfortunately, as a result of human activities, the number of butterflies is constantly decreasing. Some species are on the verge of extinction.
Grasshoppers are a family of orthoptera insects, numbering about 6800 species. Despite the presence of wings, they do not know how to fly.
Ladybugs are sympathetic to many people because they are very beautiful. In addition, they also destroy malicious aphids.
Can butterflies sing?
A dead head butterfly has amazing vocal abilities. She can imitate the singing of the queen bee to lull the vigilance of the guardian bees and penetrate the hive, where you can enjoy honey. This butterfly is one of the largest in the world. Its wingspan can reach 15 cm, and its weight is approximately 9 g. In flight, it can reach speeds of up to 50 km / h.
This butterfly is absolutely harmless, although the peculiar pattern on its back in the form of a skull inspires people with mystical fear.
How do butterflies live?
Butterflies are fragile creatures and live very little: from several days to several weeks. But they must live their short life in such a way as to have time to lay eggs. Therefore, butterflies try to survive and protect themselves in a variety of ways. Some species, such as a monarch or a kircasone sailboat, are poisonous. In birds, they begin to vomit violently and may even stop the heart. The surviving bird will never dare to attack such butterflies again.
The Caligo owl butterfly, who lives in South America, scares away birds of prey by opening its wings, which in this position become like the head of an owl
Often enemies are deceived by the pattern on the wings of butterflies. Some of them try to merge with leaves or grass. In many tropical butterflies, the pattern literally copies dry or living leaves. Some butterflies mimic poisonous species in coloring, and they are not touched either. Others have wide-open eyes on their wings. There are those that look like flies. And sometimes, the pattern on the wings of butterflies resembles a predator.
The monarch butterfly warns the bird with its bright color: do not eat me, I am poisonous! Monarch caterpillar accumulates poisonous substances
Hard hairs or poisonous secretions of many caterpillars protect them. So, the tracks of butterfly sailboats have iron, the contents of which emit a sharp unpleasant odor. Other caterpillars are saved by coloring - they resemble a stem or leaf. But the tail caterpillars look like bird droppings.
Long way to go
Some butterflies are migratory. So, butterflies-whites every year gather in huge flocks and cover a distance of several thousand kilometers. Champions in long-distance flights are monarch butterflies. Every year they travel from Canada to Mexico and vice versa, covering more than 5,000 km. One generation of butterflies makes a flight from north to south, wintering and spring breeding of offspring. And while traveling from south to north, four generations are replaced. Butterflies of the last generation live about six months longer than others. This time is enough to fly from Canada to the mountains of Mexico, to winter and to breed in spring. It still remains a mystery: how butterflies find their way to where they have never been, and determine the place from which their ancestors flew.
Caterpillars of some species of lycaenidae live inside an anthill. The caterpillars that have appeared are immediately carried away by working ants to their nests. There she lives happily all the way to pupation and turning into a butterfly. All this time, ants feed her and protect her from danger. The secret of this behavior of ants is that the caterpillar can sing in the same way as the ant uterus.
Atlas is one of the largest butterflies in the world. Her wingspan is over 25 cm. These butterflies inhabit the tropical forests of Asia. Adult butterflies do not feed, but live off of the reserves accumulated at the caterpillar stage, so their life expectancy is only 1-2 weeks. If you carefully look at the drawing of the wings, you can see the body and head of the snake.
Unusual beauty - Madagascar comet
This bright beauty is called a comet for a reason, it is the longest butterfly of the existing ones. Her home is the tropical island of Madagascar, which is known to many thanks to the popular and wonderful cartoon.
It’s a pity that the life span of this butterfly is only 1-3 days. Due to the lack of the digestive system, the Madagascar comet simply cannot survive. And it was created so that you and I could, albeit not for long, but enjoy this beauty.
Sailboat Maak - The Most Beautiful Sailboat
The handsome Sailboat Maak is not only beautiful, but also endurance. Unlike tropical relatives, this species of butterflies is not afraid of the cold and feels quite calm in the eastern regions of Russia.
The color of the wings of a butterfly depends on who is in front of us: male or female. The male is characterized by a more emerald hue, and the females have a browner color.
Peacock Eye - Bright and Colorful
A chic day butterfly called peacock eye got its name, as we already guessed, in its famous coloring, similar to a graceful bird. Its wings above and below are decorated with beautiful multi-colored ovals very similar to those that adorn the peacock's tail.
This beautiful creature inhabits preferably in Europe and Asia, but do not get upset, this type of incredible butterflies can be found in more eastern regions, for this you just need to go to a field or meadow, because in megacities this creature of divine beauty, unfortunately, does not live .
Golden Birdwing - Talisman
The Asian miracle butterfly is very popular in its country, as it is considered a talisman that brings material prosperity. For the large size and color of the wings, the butterfly got its interesting name.
The color itself consists of two colors: the upper wings of a butterfly are black, and the lower wings are golden or, rather, yellow. An unrivaled combination of colors makes this butterfly one of the most beautiful on our planet.
Greta Oto - Glass Beauty
Amazingly beautiful, the most graceful and sophisticated butterfly in the world is a butterfly with a female name Greta Oto. Its amazing wings are so thin and transparent that it seems as if they are made of the finest crystal.
You can meet such a small beauty in Mexico and Argentina, and she lives in moist, evergreen and flowering forests. This butterfly is a gourmet and eats nectars of various poisonous flowers. And she does this in order to scare away her enemies with the possibility of poisoning. Clever, isn't it?
But about the most poisonous scorpions of the world, read an interesting article on our website.
Glory of Bhutan - Unusual Moth
The unusual and peculiar shape of this species of butterflies attracts attention, not even of special lovers of insects of this species. And the wingspan and the ability to camouflage, folding the wings one on top of the other, amazes and amazes. The Indian beauty butterfly lives in the mountains and forests, and is carefully protected by the state. On each wing there are three tails of different lengths that give the whole image sophistication and grace, and bright red spots beacon like signal identifiers: "I can’t eat, I’m inedible."
The Prince of Darkness is an awesome name, but a beautiful filling
The peacock-eye Atlas or Prince of Darkness is one of the largest moths in the world, and its color is considered the most beautiful. The size of the butterfly is so large that in Taiwan their cocoons are used as a place to store small things or instead of a wallet.
The tan pattern on the wings looks very impressive. Having met her once, you can no longer forget her.
This species of butterflies is also called Madagascar Urania, since it lives only on this wonderful island. Bright color, which includes several colors at once, was recognized as the most beautiful in the world. Another distinctive feature is the unusual, smooth and graceful shape of the insect wings.
Oleander Brazhnik - Caucasian Pride
This type of night butterflies can be considered the most aesthetically beautiful and unusual. You can safely call them a masterpiece of natural art, because if you look closer to them, you get the impression that the wings of a butterfly are painted by a talented artist.
Lucky to see this butterfly to those who visit the mountain Caucasus, its habitat.
Royal Tailed - Unrivaled Butterfly
One of the most beautiful butterflies on the planet is a butterfly from the family of Lycaenidae - Royal Tail. Her beautiful wings adorn long spurs, making her even more graceful and refined. At rest, the butterfly folds its wings in a vertical plane and becomes invisible among the foliage.
Her color is different, but the most beautiful, according to the editorial board of most-beauty.ru - is blue.
Admirals are also not only strict, but also beautiful.
Another giant butterfly with the beautiful name Admiral lives on forest edges, meadows and fields. This is a day butterfly. It can be found on flowers and trees from early spring to late autumn. The color of the wings of the Admiral is very similar to marble, but there is a distinguishing feature - it is white spots on the upper wings, so you will not mix it up with anyone.
Sailboat of Queen Alexandra
The rarest butterfly that occurs in nature, its habitat is limited to only one village in New Guinea.
The color of the female and the male is very different, and it is worth mentioning that it is the male of this species that is considered the most beautiful representative of butterflies.
The emerald blue color of the wings makes it a welcome exhibit of any collection.
Owl Kaligo - Night Fairy
This spectacular beauty loves walking at night, so she has an ultrasonic hearing and even a voice. Her color is very interesting and beautiful, and small scales are very pronounced. That is why large insect wings are often compared to snake skin.
Our night visitor is a big sweet tooth, she loves sweet and ripe fruits, honey and sweet floral nectar. And you can meet this fluttering beauty in the tropical forests of Central and South America.
Monarchs are even butterflies
Monarch Butterfly, or as it is also called Danaida Monarch, is the most beautiful miniature butterfly on the planet. Almost everything knows her, because she, like a real model, flaunts on the covers of books, in various illustrations and even stamps.
And it is well deserved. Look at her clear pattern, on these small wings the flowing lines are very combined with black and white peas, and you know the classic was always in fashion.
Representatives of the order Lepidoptera, to which butterflies belong to the biological hierarchy, can be found on almost all continents and in any climate except the coldest - Antarctica. They like to fly in flowering meadows in the middle latitudes and among the ice of Greenland, on the islands of the Pacific Ocean and in the high mountains of the Himalayas.
Butterflies belong to the most numerous and ancient order, which has more than 158 thousand species. Lepidoptera - cold-blooded (ectothermal) insects that can regulate their own body temperature, taking heat from the outside or releasing it into the environment. Because of this, most of their species prefers to live in a tropical climate.
A butterfly is called an insect with a complete transformation, i.e. its development passes through all stages: eggs, larvae or caterpillars to a chrysalis and an adult (imago). Also, for most lepidopterans, a characteristic feature of the body structure is the presence of a mouth apparatus with a proboscis through which they drink nectar. They also have a wide variety of wing shapes and sizes: from 2 mm to 28 cm.
Where the butterfly lives, what it eats and its life expectancy, most often depends on the climatic zone: these insects prefer a hot and humid natural climate, that is, the tropics. The largest variety of species lives in the forests of South America (40 thousand), in South and Southeast Asia (more than 10 thousand), where there are ideal conditions for the number of sunny days, high humidity and the possibility of camouflage among thick foliage.
The appearance of the butterfly, where they live and what they eat
Butterflies among invertebrates have the most complex body structure and the most beautiful appearance. The body of the insect consists of the abdomen, chest, head with antennae and proboscis, 3 pairs of legs and two pairs of beautiful wings, which contain all the beauty of nature, various patterns and colors.
In total, the butterfly has 4 wings, each of which is covered with scales in an amount from 100 thousand to 1 million in larger tropical species. They are: pigment (containing bright dye) and optical (reflecting and refracting light).
Butterflies feed exclusively on fluids that they can drink through their proboscis: flower nectar, tree sap, pollen, dung, and rotting fruit. They can suck moisture from puddles or leaves, sometimes sit down in search of a drink for a person, attracted by the smell of sweat, which contains salts and minerals necessary for their life.
Life expectancy also depends on where the butterfly lives, its type and size: smaller ones can live only a few days, and large insects that live in the tropics can last up to several months. Representatives of middle latitudes live on average 3-4 weeks, and northern - up to 2 years.
The life cycle of Lepidoptera begins with the laying of eggs by adult insects directly on the leaves or branches of plants, where the butterfly lives (or rather its egg) at the first stage of its development, which lasts 8-15 days. The color, quantity and shape of the eggs depend on the species, in total there can be up to 1 thousand pieces, most of which do not survive to adulthood. Species of butterflies living in a temperate climate usually lay eggs in late autumn or early winter, and they are in a sleeping state until spring.
The next stage - caterpillars, also takes place on the plants that they feed on. According to their lifestyle, they are divided into those who openly crawl along leaves and branches in search of food, and those who hide under special covers made independently with the help of silky threads and parts of leaves. In terms of color, some caterpillars are bright, demonstrating their inedibility, others are disguised as green parts of plants.
The duration of the life cycle depends on the temperature and climate where the butterflies live in nature: in northern species, caterpillars can hibernate (diapause) until next spring, and their development cycle can drag on to 7-10 years.
The most motionless stage - the chrysalis - looks like a cylinder of a light color, as it ripens, the color changes to the one that is characteristic of this species. Pupae can either attach to leaves or lie on the ground without eating for a long time.
An adult butterfly (imago) crawls out of the pupa, pushing its paws from the shell, and males are born in the light in time earlier than females. After leaving the shell, its wings gradually spread and harden, and a characteristic coloring also manifests itself.
Where do butterflies winter?
Most species of butterflies live only in summer, laying their eggs for the next generation, and then insects die. But among them there are centenarians.
Where do butterflies live in winter and how do they hide from the cold? The answer depends on the species of Lepidoptera. So, some butterflies that live on the territory of Russia (hives, lemongrasses, thistles) hibernate for the winter, crawling into crevices or hollows of trees and wrapping themselves in their wings. Many climb closer to warm human habitation and fall asleep there.
But there are also migrant butterflies, which, like birds, gather in flocks, numbering up to 1 million individuals, and in the fall fly to the warm southern countries, sometimes located 1000 km from their homeland. Scientists have been struggling with the mystery of how these creatures find their way for decades. After all, having a more primitive nervous system, they are not able to navigate the sun.
The origin of the word “butterfly” in Orthodox countries originates from the words “old woman” or “grandmother”, because From ancient times, people represented these insects as the souls of dead people. To this day, this belief still exists in villages and villages in the Russian outback.
The largest butterfly is the South American tropical scoop or Agrippin's titania, its wingspan is 28 cm, in Russia - Maak's sailboat (up to 13.5 cm). The smallest - a moth-baby, living in the Canary Islands, its dimensions barely reach 2-4 mm.
A butterfly, flying from flower to flower, can overcome in 1 hour to 10 km, thus moving to the place where it will lay eggs.
One of the most amazing butterflies - Greta - amazes with its transparent wings, through which the entire surrounding world shines through.
Brahmin (Brahmin Moth)
Brahmans are common in northern India, Burma, China and Japan.
Photo source: Kulturologia.ru
Butterflies are active at night, and during the day they spread their wings, resting on tree trunks or in the grass.
Peacock-eye Cecropia (Hyalophora cecropia)
The larva is covered with nodules and tubercles.
The largest moth in North America and one of the most colorful.
Machaon (Spicebush Swallowtail)
During development, the caterpillar goes through several color stages - at first it is brown with white spots, then it has a brilliant green color, and in the end it turns orange-red.
Butterfly sailboat lives in North America.
Imperial Tailed Butterfly (Polyura Sempronius)
The horn shell on the head of a caterpillar would be more suitable for a prehistoric dinosaur than for this small creature.
An Australian butterfly with the curious nickname "Tailed Emperor".
Moth (Acharia Stimulea)
The caterpillars have a green-white-brown color, and are painted so that it seems they put on a saddle and blanket or coverlet. Caterpillars have a pair of fleshy horns that are crowned with hairs that produce irritating poison.
Butterfly of the slug family.
Moth Witch Caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium)
The moth-witch caterpillar, also called the “slug monkey”, often lives in orchards.
Butterflies are found in North and Central America.
Greta Oto, or Glass Winged Butterfly
This species is found from Mexico to Argentina, in moist forests.
An amazing view of butterflies with transparent wings. The transparency effect occurs due to the lack of colored scales on the wings of an insect.
Harpy large or spotted fork (Cerura vinula)
Caterpillar on the back with a large purple spot in the shape of a rhombus, which is surrounded by a white stripe at the edges. At the end of the body of the caterpillar is a large fork-like outgrowth.
Night Butterfly of the Corydalis family.
Slug (Isochaetes beutenmuelleri)
Dozens of sparkling needles, as if covered with hoarfrost, adorn the body of this caterpillar, giving it an elegant, almost fabulous look.
Wood lice butterflies live in North America, from the states of New York and Florida to Colorado and Texas.
Slime Butterfly (Isa Textula)
Caterpillars leave characteristic zigzag tracks on the surface of tree leaves, and are protected from predators by stinging hairs along the edge of the body.
A moth from the slug family.
“Flowers are like butterflies, and butterflies are flowers, they fly light-winged over our lives, and fall, tearing off from above, when their life seems hateful”.
You can compare a gentle and light butterfly with a human soul that no one has seen, but all of it is just like that and they represent an innocent, soaring and divinely beautiful one. Today we opened the world of insects to you from a slightly different side. These were the brightest, most beautiful and most unusual butterflies of our planet. We hope that we have surprised and pleased you.
And below we will post some more beautiful photos of amazingly beautiful butterflies:
The editors of most-beauty are looking forward to your comments on this article!