Here are the most spectacular butterfly facts for kids including butterfly habitat, diet, and reproduction. Fundamentally speaking, a butterfly is a day-flying insect belongs to the Lepidoptera order. There are four parts of the butterfly’s lifecycle namely; egg, larva, pupa and adult. Nearly all species are diurnal. They have brilliantly colored wings.
Butterflies consist of skippers, the true butterflies, and moth-butterflies. The rest of the families lying within Lepidoptera are termed as moths. The earliest butterfly fossils date back to the Eocene era, between 40 – 50 million years ago. These types of insects show polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. There are some species that travel great distances. Monarch butterfly is one of them.
Few species are thought to have been evolved symbiotic and sponging relationships. There are some that are considered as pests since they tend to damage domestic crops and trees in their larva stage. On the contrary, some species become the reason for plants pollination as they eat harmful insects. These butterflies are referred to as Harvesters. Culturally, butterfly has gathered a huge attention in the field of visual and literary arts.
Fascinating Butterfly Facts For Kids
There is a false stipulation regarding the butterflies lifespan in that the insect has a shorter lifespan. Conversely, they are capable to survive from a week to almost a year. Most species exhibit long larval life phases while others can remain inactive in their pupal or egg phases and thus live on winters. They may have one or more than one broods each year. The number of generations each year differs from mild to the tropical regions with the later displaying a trend towards multivoltinism.
Read More: What Eats Monarch Butterflies?
There is a hard-ridged external layer known as chorion which shields the butterflies’ eggs. This is creased with a slim wax-coating that stops the egg from drying out before the larva has had time to fully mature. There are numerous small funnel-shaped openings at one end known as micropyles; the rationale of these cracks is to enable sperm to come in and fertilize the egg. There is a significant size difference in the moth eggs and butterfly eggs, with the shared characteristics of spherical or ovate.
These eggs are well set to a leaf together with unusual glue which toughens quickly. It shrinks with the toughness and thereby deforming the egg’s shape. You can easily see this glue orbiting the base of each egg developing meniscus. However, the nature of this glue is not known and is a proper subject for research. Pupa produces the same glue to shield the setae of the cremaster. It becomes too difficult to separate this glue since it’s really hard.
Eggs are just about perpetually laid on plants. Each butterfly species has its own hostplant range. While few species are limited to specific plants, others rely on series of plant species, frequently including members of a shared family. In general, the egg phase lasts for couple of weeks but eggs laid near winter, undergo a resting phase and hatching is mostly takes place in spring. These species are generally northern species for example, Mourning Cloak, Large Tortoiseshell, and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.
Caterpillars | Butterfly Facts For Kids
Caterpillars and butterfly larvae spend most of their time devouring food. Nearly all caterpillars are considered to be herbivores, with few species such as Liphyra brassolis and Spalgis epius rely on insets for their daily consumption. Few larvae, particularly those befalling under Lycaenidae develop mutul associations with ants. The communication takes place through vibrations that are emitted with the help of substrate and using chemical signals.
The ants, up to some extent, protect these larvae and indeed they collect honeydew secretions. Caterpillars develop through a succession of phases known as instars. The larvae go through the process called apolysis near the end of each instar, in which a hard external layer (cuticle) made of a mixture of chitin and concentrated proteins, is discharged from the softer epidermis underneath, and the epidermis begins to develop a new citicle underneath.
Read More: How Long Do Monarch Butterflies Live?
Butterfly and caterpillars share few common characteristics and traits in that both have three pairs of true legs from the thoracic sections and up to 6 pairs of prologs appearing from the abdominal parts. There are rings with tiny hooks on the prologs known as crochets that assist them grip the substrate. Few caterpillar species are capable to magnify parts of their head to appear snake-like. Several have bogus eye-spots to improve this effect. There are some species that have special structures known as osmeteria which are everted to give rise to smelly chemicals.
Host plants are actually poisonous and caterpillars are capable to sequester these substances and hang on to their adult stage.
Wing Development | Butterfly Facts
At the larvae stage, wings are not noticeable but when larvae are scrutinized, small developing wing disks can be visible on the second and third segments of thoracic, instead of spiracles that are obvious on abdominal segments. Wing disks form in association with a trachea that sprints in the line of the wing’s base, and are orbited by a slim peripodial membrane. These wing disks are too small until the last larval instar, when they enhance significantly in size, are marched into by branching trachea from the wing base that pave the way for the wing vein formation, and begin to form patterns linked to the numerous landmarks of the wing.
After the larva is completely matured, hormones begin to emerge. Prothoraicicotropic hormone (PTTH). At this point, larvae do not feed rather it moves around in pursuit of an appropriate pupation site, often the underside of a leaf. The larva then alters into pupa by attaching itself to a substrate and moulting for the first time. The pupa cannot move, although some species are capable to move the abdominal segments or give rise to the sounds to shock potential predators.
Read More: Monarch Butterfly Facts for Kids
Butterfly Facts | Morphology
Butterflies are portrayed by their scale-covered wings. It’s the minute scales that generates the coloration of butterfly wings. These scales are colored with melanis that produce them blacks and browns; the blue, reds, greens and iridescence are generally created not by pigments but the microstructure of the scales.
Mature butterflies comprise of four wings: a forewing and the hindwing on both sides of the body. The body is classified into three sentions: thorax, the head, and the abdomen. They have two compound eyes, proboscis, and antennae.
What Do Butterflies Eat | Butterfly Facts about its Diet
These insects predominantly feed on flowers nectar. Some species also draw nourishment from pollen, rotting fruit, dung, tree sap, decaying flesh, and dissolved materials in wet sand and dirt. Butterflies play pivotal environmental role in that they act as pollinators of plants although in general they do not take too much pollen load as bees. Butterflies are known to move pollen over vast distances.
When matured, these insects make use of liquids which are swallowed through proboscis. They taste water from soggy blotches for hydration and feed on nectar from flowers, from which they attain sugars for energy and sodium and other minerals important for reproduction.
Butterflies require a great quantity of sodium than the amount provided by the nectar and are appealed to sodium in salt; they seldom land on people, fascinated by the salt in human sweat. There are some species that rely on rotting fruit and carcasses to acquire minerals and nutrients. In several species, the mud-puddling behavior limited to the males, research have shown that the nutrients gathered may be offered as a nuptial gift together with the spermatophore, whilst mating.
With the help of their antennae, they sense the air for wind and scents. The antennae come in a variety of colors and shapes; the hesperids have a sharped hook or angle to the antennae, while many other families display knobbed antennae. The antennae are thoroughly shielded with the sensory organs known as sensillae.
As compared to humans, these insects have 200 time’s greater sense of taste. It’s the chemoreceptors (on the feet) that are used to identify whether the egg-laying insect’s offspring will be able to feed on a leaf before eggs are laid on it. Several species employ chemical signals (pheromones) and concentrated scent scales and other structures are formed in few butterflies.
Butterflies have a better visionary sense in that many species are susceptible to the ultraviolet spectrum. Color vision may be prevalent but has been displayed in only a few species. Some species are strong migratory insects in that they are skilled enough to cover wide distances. Monarch butterfly is one of these.
The butterfly migration takes place during daytime since they use to adjust themselves. They also distinguish polarized light and use it for direction when the sun is out of sight. Several species sustain territories and aggressively pursue other species or individuals that may wander away into them. Some butterflies will stretch out on selected perches.
Butterfly Flight | Butterfly Facts For Kids
Butterfly employs diversity of aerodynamic mechanisms to produce force. Like other insect members, the lift produced by these species is more than what can be accounted for by steady-state, non-transitory aerodynamics. The different aerodynamic mechanisms include vortices at the wing edge, wake capture, clap-and-fling, Weis-Fogh and rotational mechanisms. They are also capable to alter from one mode to the other.
Most species are known to cover great distances. One of the most well-known species is called Monarch butterfly from Mexico to Southern Canada and northern America, a distance of about 4,000 – 4,800 km (2,500 – 3,000 miles). Other species include Danaine butterfly and Painted Lady. Amazing migrations is particularly observed during the monsoon season in peninsular India.
They navigate with the help of time compensated sun compasses. They can observe polarized light and so adjust even in cloudy conditions. The studies revealed that nearly all migratory butterflies are those that are endemic to semi-arid regions where short breeding seasons are common.