The butterfly is considered a dominant symbol of life and the soul. In Christianity, it is seen as a sign of resurrection. Other people consider it as representing change, endurance, life, and hope. It also symbolizes weddings, celebrations, our lives, and its journey. But what exactly is a butterfly… is a butterfly an insect?
This article will help you to know everything about butterflies, not only what a butterfly is, but butterfly meaning, its lifecycle, different types of butterflies, and their lifespan.
Is a Butterfly an Insect?
Yes, butterflies are a type of flying insect that belongs to the category Lepidoptera. Lepidoptera is a species of an insect whose wings are covered with tiny scales. That is what gives butterfly queen its beauty.
The butterfly life cycle
The butterfly life cycle happens in a process known as butterfly metamorphosis. This process has four stages that are Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. Each stage has its purpose. For example, – adults need to reproduce, and caterpillars need to eat a lot. The lifecycle of the butterflies takes from one month to one year depending upon the type.
1. Egg – 1st stage
The first stage of the lifecycle of a butterfly queen starts as an egg. Characteristics of these eggs are:
- Small in size
- Cylindrical, oval, or round in shape
The shape of a butterfly egg depends on the butterfly types that laid the egg. Butterfly generally lay their eggs on the plant leaves.
2. Larva – 2nd Stage
The larva (also known as a caterpillar) is the second stage of the life cycle. The duration of this stage is concise, and all caterpillar do in this stage is to eat a lot. Caterpillar eats the same plant leaves they were born onto. Caterpillars are very tiny in size and can’t move. Therefore, mother butterflies need to lay their eggs on the type of leaves that can be eaten by the caterpillar.
3. Pupa – 3rd Stage
Once the caterpillar growth reached to its full weight and strength in the second stage, it transforms itself into a pupa (also known as Chrysalis). In this stage, all the body parts transform to emerge ultimately as a beautiful creature. By the time the pupa stage is completed, its body organs, tissues, and limbs get changed and ready for its final stage of the life cycle, i.e. Adult.
4. Adult – 4th Stage
The Adult is the final stage of butterfly life cycle. During this stage, the butterfly emerges with both of it’s wings folded against the body. This is because it had fit its body parts inside the small pupa. After a certain amount of rest, the adult butterfly pumps some blood to its wings so that they can start flapping and working. Once they are ready, it takes about three to four hours for a butterfly to master flying.
Types of Butterflies
There are about 18,500 butterfly species across the world except for Antarctica. Below is a list of all some of the more famous butterfly types.
1. Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly is native to North America, but now can be seen in New Zealand, Australia, Iberian Peninsula, and other parts of Oceania. This species is said to be one of the most beautiful insect also known as the “King of the butterflies”. This is the reason it has the name, “monarch”. It is from Nymphalids family and has an average wingspan range of about 95-100 mm.
2. The Painted Lady
The Painted Lady Butterfly belongs to Nymphalids family and can be found in Ireland, Britain, Wales, and Scotland. It is medium in size and has a wingspan range of about 50-56mm.
Swallowtail is considered to be one of the strong-flying butterflies. They can be seen in Norfolk Broads in general. It is one of the rarest species among the butterflies and possesses a speciality of wet fenland. It belongs to the Swallowtails family, large in size, and has an average wide span of about 80-90 mm.
4. Indian Oak-leaf
Indian Leaf butterfly (also known as orange oak leaf or dead leaf) is founded in the Asian regions from India to Japan. Its appearance is similar to a dry leaf with dark veins. Its wings look like a leaf when closed. It has an average wingspan of about 85 to 110 mm. It is one of the powerful fliers and can quickly fly even in good rainfall.
Morpho can be seen in the regions of south and central America, Venezuela, and Mexico. Its wingspan ranges from 7.5 cm to 20 cm and appearance is shimmering, and metallic shades blue and green colour. The lifecycle of a morpho is about 115 days.
Sulphur is a butterfly type that’s orange and yellow and has an average wingspan of about 35 to 60mm. Cloudless sulphur is one of the largest species of sulphur. Its wingspan varies from 5.7 to 8cm. It can be seen in the south-west part of the United States of America.
Butterfly life span
The lifespan of a butterfly depends on multiple factors like size, species, habitation, and at what time of the year it transformed into an adult . For example, a large butterfly is likely to live longer than a small ones. Of course, size is not the only factor, but it is one of the attributes that matter. An average butterfly lifespan is one month. On the other hand, butterflies of smaller size may only live about one week. Among all the butterfly types, Monarchs & Mourning cloaks are the two species that have a lifespan of about nine months.
In summary, is a butterfly an insect? Yes it is. Many people consider moths and butterfly the same. They do have many things in common, but they are entirely different. Here are some differences between a butterfly and a moth:
- Moths feed and fly at night, but butterflies are active in the daytime.
- Moths keep their wings open while resting, but butterflies fold their wings.
- Antennas of butterflies are more extensive at the tips, but mouths antennas are feathery.
So, the next time when you see a butterfly on a flower, make sure it’s a butterfly and not a moth.