A butterfly is a flying insect of the order ‘Lepidoptera’ (an order of insects with broad wings which have minute overlapping scales). In Greek, ‘Lepidoptera’ means ‘scaled wings’. This order belongs to the superfamily ‘Hesperioidea’ or ‘Skippers’ as they are commonly called. ‘Skippers differ from butterflies in that they have thicker bodies, better eyes, stronger wing muscles and hooked-back antennae.
Butterflies alone are called ‘Papilionoidea’. Butterflies characteristically have slender bodies, antennae with tiny balls on the ends, six legs and four broad, usually colorful wings.
Butterflies are distributed throughout the world except in the very cold and arid (dry) regions. There are an estimated 17,500 species of butterflies (Papilionoidea) out of about 180,000 species of Lepidoptera.
What Do Butterflies Eat?
Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollen, tree sap, rotting fruit, dung and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. Butterflies play an important ecological role as pollinators.
As adults, butterflies consume only liquids and these are sucked by means of their proboscis. They feed on nectar from flowers and also sip water from damp patches. This they do for water, for energy from sugars in nectar and for sodium and other minerals which are vital for their reproduction. Several species of butterflies need more sodium than provided by nectar. They are attracted to sodium in salt and they sometimes land on people, attracted by human sweat.
Morpho butterflies feed on the juices of fermenting fruit with which they may also be lured. The inebriated butterflies wobble in flight and are easy to catch. Morphos will also feed on the bodily fluids of dead animals and on fungi. Therefore, Morpho butterflies may be important in dispersing fungal spores.
How Do Butterflies Eat?
Butterflies do not have a mouth to taste and eat food like we do. Instead, they taste through their feet. When they stand on their food, they can taste the food, but how can they eat it without a mouth? Well, instead of a mouth, they have a kind of long, straw-like structure called a ‘proboscis’ which enables them to drink juices and nectar.
When this ‘proboscis’ is not being used, it is coiled-up like a garden hose.
What do Caterpillars eat?
Caterpillars can eat a variety of different foods. Many like to feed on vegetables you may have in your garden, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and kale. Some also feed on leaves of fruit trees, or even leaves of larger trees such as oak trees.
Unfortunately, because caterpillars need to eat so much before they have the strength and energy to turn into butterflies, they can do real damage to gardens!
What animals eat butterflies?
Butterflies are fragile and almost defenseless creatures. They rely on a variety of strategies to protect them from hungry predators. Their predators include birds, spiders, reptiles, other insects (e.g., wasps, flies and mites), and small mammals.
Most butterflies protect themselves from predators by using camouflage. Some butterflies blend into their environment so well that is it almost impossible to spot them when they are resting on a branch. Some butterflies look like dead leaves (like the Indian leaf butterfly), others look like the bark of a tree and would be difficult to spot!
What are the Differences Between Moths and Butterflies?
There are a few key differences between moths and butterflies. For one, moths are generally nocturnal while butterflies are diurnal. This means that moths are active at night while butterflies are active during the day.
They have similar body shapes and life cycles but there are a lot more differences in moths vs butterflies too.