What do butterflies eat

butterfly

Characteristics

What do butterflies look like?

Butterflies are easy to spot: they have a small, thin body with four large, often colored or variegated wings.

The color of the wings is created by very fine flakes of color. Some butterflies have around a million such color scales on their wings.

That is why butterflies and their close relatives are also called scaly wings. The flakes of color form beautiful patterns that can be used to distinguish the different species from each other.

On their little head, butterflies have compound eyes, which can be composed of up to 30,000 individual lenses or facets.

The long antennae, which can look like threads, combs or clubs, are also striking.

Where do butterflies live?

Butterflies are common all over the world. Only in very cold areas there are no butterflies.

Butterflies are mostly found in meadows, fields, on bushes, on the edges of forests and in forests. Butterflies can live almost anywhere where plants grow.

What kinds of butterflies are there?

With around 150,000 species, butterflies or scallops form a large group within insects.

The butterflies also include the moths, moths, hawks, spanners, spinners and moths.

Some butterflies are also called owls, bears, ribbons or house mothers.

Some butterflies, such as the banana butterflies from Central and South America, have a huge pattern on the underside of their wings that looks like an owl's eye.

That is why they are also called owl butterflies. This "eye" is supposed to deter birds that want to eat butterflies.

The checkerboard butterfly also has a striking pattern on its wings: the black and white pattern is reminiscent of a chessboard, as the name suggests.

How old do butterflies get?

While the caterpillar stage can take several years in some butterflies, the moths rarely get past two weeks.

There are even butterflies that only live so briefly that they don't even need to eat.

But some butterflies, such as the peacock's eye, can hibernate as full-grown animals in attics, in basements, in hollow trees or in other protected places.

The admiral flies to warm southern Europe in winter. From there he flies back to Central Europe in the spring.

behavior

How do butterflies live?

Butterflies flutter from flower to flower in search of food.

Some butterflies, the real butterflies, do this during the day, some foraging at dusk and some at night.

Others, like the banana butterflies, belong to the butterflies, but do not like the bright sunlight and are therefore particularly active in the morning and evening during twilight. They spend the day sitting on trunks and branches, folding their wings in a typical posture.

With their compound eyes, they can see ultraviolet light. We humans cannot perceive this light. This means that flowers look very different to butterflies than they do to us.

But a butterfly knows straight away whether it likes a blossom when it lands on it. Because butterflies have very sensitive taste organs on their front legs. This means that they "smell" more than 1000 times better than us humans.

Some butterflies protect themselves from enemies by producing poisons. The body of the white tree nymph contains so strongly poisonous alkaloids that it cannot be eaten by enemies such as birds.

The striking, beautifully patterned butterflies have a wingspan of over 15 centimeters and are found from southern China and Malaysia to the Philippines and Thailand.

As butterflies fly from flower to flower and from flower to flower, like other insects, they also transport pollen from one plant to the next.

This pollination is important for many plants so that they can reproduce. You can often see butterflies sitting in the sun with their wings spread. Some butterflies warm their bodies in this way.

Dolls don't do anything. They don't eat. You don't move. At this stage in the development of the butterflies, the clumsy, sausage-shaped caterpillar is converted into a tender, flighty butterfly. But that happens without being able to be seen from the outside.

Caterpillars are pure eating machines. They need to gather together the nutrients they need very quickly to transform themselves into a butterfly.

In a short time they increase their weight by a factor of a thousand. So they don't have time to do anything other than eat.

How do butterflies reproduce?

The different butterflies behave differently when looking for a partner. In the peacock butterfly and admiral, the males occupy a territory and drive away intruders. Swallowtails, on the other hand, occupy vantage points and wait there for a female to flutter by. Many butterflies give off fragrance when a partner approaches. There are very fine olfactory organs on the antennae.

After mating, the female lays eggs, from which butterflies develop over various stages.

The larvae that hatch from the butterfly's eggs are called caterpillars. They have twelve small point eyes and tiny antennae on their heads.

On its sausage-shaped body sit short stubby legs with which the caterpillar crawls around.

So that they do not have to look for food, the butterfly females lay their eggs directly on the caterpillars' forage plant.

To transform into a butterfly, the caterpillar has to pupate.

She weaves a long thread out of her body and completely envelops herself.

This shell is called a "cocoon" and a "pupa" is the stage in the transformation into a butterfly.

The caterpillar's jaws become the proboscis, the long legs of the butterflies emerge from the stubby legs and the compound eyes develop from the pointy eyes.

When the conversion to a butterfly is finished, the shell of the pupa bursts and the butterfly hatches. But it can't take off right away because the wings are still wrinkled. That is why the butterfly has to pump them up with hemolymph - this is what the blood of insects is called. This causes the wings to unfold. In addition, they are initially quite soft and must first become hard in the air. A few hours pass before the butterfly can flutter away.

The transformation into a butterfly

See how a tiny egg becomes a caterpillar and a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly! 🦋

maintenance

What do butterflies eat?

When butterflies ingest food, you can see another characteristic feature: the proboscis.

It can be as long as the entire body of the butterfly.

But the proboscis that the animals use to suck nectar from the flowers can be rolled up. That is why they are sometimes difficult to see.

Most butterflies soak up the fragrant, sweet juices of the flowering plants.

But there are also some butterflies that drink sweat or blood or suckle on rotting fruit. They include the banana butterflies, which suck the fermenting juice from bananas.

So that they can clean themselves of the sticky juices, their first pair of legs has been converted into a kind of brush: They are no longer used for walking, but rather that the butterflies clean their eyes, antennae and proboscis after they have eaten.

In some butterfly species, the adult animals only live so briefly that they do not eat at all and therefore only have a stunted trunk.