Where Do They Come From?
Butterflies lay their eggs on leaves. The egg hatches into a caterpillar with a tube-shaped body. The caterpillar eats leaves, buds, or flowers of plants. Caterpillars eat a lot and grow fast. Some caterpillars harm plants.
When a caterpillar is full size, it goes into another stage called a chrysalis. Caterpillars attach themselves to something solid before becoming a chrysalis.
The caterpillar inside the chrysalis changes into a butterfly. Some butterflies make the change in one week. Some butterflies take years to change.
When the change is complete, the adult butterfly splits the chrysalis. The insect unfolds its wings and pumps blood and air into them. It spreads out the wings until they dry and harden. The beautiful butterfly then flies off to slurp nectar from flowers. Most butterflies live only one or two weeks.
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Why Do Butterflies Have Colorful Wings?
Colorful wings help butterflies find each other. Often male and female butterflies have different colors or patterns on their wings. Butterflies can see colors and patterns.
Colored wings help some butterflies hide from birds and other enemies. Some butterflies have spots on their wings that look like big eyes. The “eyes” scare enemies away.
Some brightly colored butterflies, such as monarchs, taste really bad to birds that try to eat them. Birds learn not to eat these butterflies. Other butterflies have a simpler trick: They look like bad-tasting butterflies. Monarchs and viceroys are both colored orange and black. Viceroys taste good, but birds leave them alone because viceroys are the same color as monarchs.
What Do Butterflies Eat?
Fun Fact: Did you know that butterflies stick their tongues into flowers and suck up sweet juices? Butterflies have long, hollow tongues. The shortest tongues are less than an inch long. The longest tongues are several inches long.
Butterflies feed upon flower juices called nectar. Some feed on tree sap and juices from rotting fruit. Some males feed on salts from mud puddles or from decaying animals. Some adult butterflies do not eat at all.
Butterflies, just like bees, help plants reproduce. They pick up and carry pollen grains from flower to flower while they are feeding. Pollen grains are the male sex cells of plants. The pollen fertilizes the plant.
Fun Fact: Butterflies can smell, but they do not have noses. They use the antennas on top of their heads for smelling. Butterflies can also taste. Their sense of taste comes from little hairs on their feet.
Where Can You Find Butterflies?
Butterflies live and can be found in almost every part of the world, well, except for the South Pole and the oceans. Most butterflies live among flowers fields. More kinds of butterflies live in the tropics than anywhere else
Butterflies are closely related to moths, another type of insect. One difference between butterflies and moths is how their antennae look. Butterflies have knobs called clubs on the tips of their antennae. Moths do not.
Many kinds of moths have dull gray or brown wings. Most butterflies have wings with colorful patterns. In addition, most moths fly at night. Most butterflies are active during the day.
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