Butterflies are one of the most beautiful creatures in the world. They often attract kids with their colourful wings. Some people also attract butterflies by planting flowers and plants that are favourable to them.
We have tried to gather some of the most amazing butterfly facts for kids here. This will help you understand these beautiful insects in detail.
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Butterflies for Kids
Goes by the scientific name of Rhopalocera, the butterflies are insects that have a large number of species. They have so many fun characteristics that include their food habits and sleeping habits.
We have listed some of those fun facts here along with the most common of the butterflies that we often see in our gardens. Hope you have a fun time reading it.
1. Butterflies can taste through their feet
The taste receptors of the butterflies are located on their feet. That is why they can smell and taste through their feet. They can just stand on their food and have a taste of it.
The spines that are present on the back of their legs have chemoreceptors. These help in detecting the right plant chemicals. The right plant, when detected, is used for laying eggs by the female butterflies.
2. They have straws for eating
Known as proboscis, it is the organ through which the butterflies have their food. It is similar to the trunk of elephants. The adult butterfly is known for having only a liquid diet. It can not eat anything as it can not chew solid food.
It drinks the nectar from the flowers and other juices from plant matters. Some of the butterflies get their food from rotting matter including animals. But whatever the source is, the diet is liquid.
3. They can not fly in cold
The butterflies are cold-blooded animals. They are unable to regulate their body temperatures on their own. When the surrounding temperatures are colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it impacts their flying. They can not move and hence fall prey to the predators.
They need an ideal temperature ranging between 82 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit to fly easily. They need to warm up during a cold day with the help of sunlight or by shivering to fly.
4. They can see a wide range of colours
Butterflies have nearsighted vision. They can see up to a distance of 12 feet and the things beyond that distance can get blurry for them. They can see a wide range of colours because of their compound eyes including ultraviolet colours which humans are unable to see with naked eyes.
These ultraviolet colours are also marked on their wings for them to locate their mates. The flowers also have ultraviolet colours to attract butterflies.
5. The habitats of butterflies
The butterflies inhabit places that are most natural and are free from chemicals and pesticides. Human development has been destroying their habitats due to the usage of chemicals in both factories and agriculture.
Butterflies love places that gets a proper amount of sunlight for at least 5 – 6 hours each day. They stay clear of places that are windy since they are so light weighted. Places with proper plants and flowers that can provide food to butterflies and caterpillars attract their population.
6. The wings are their protectors
The butterflies protect themselves through the help of their wings. They camouflage by blending in with the surroundings so that they are difficult to locate by the predators. The dead leaf butterfly is the perfect example of this.
They even wear a full spectrum of colours to scare away the predators. They have two pairs of wings which might seem to you like only one pair. They have two fore wings and two hind wings.
7. The ants babysit the caterpillars
The ants are known to take care and provide protection to many members of the butterfly family. The Alcon blue butterflies are known to give chemical signals to the ants who then carry the babies to their nest. It often cost them as the caterpillars might eat the ant larvae.
They also steal the ant food when they grow up to be an adult. To protect themselves, the ants are known to alter their communication chemicals.
8. Butterflies do not sleep
Butterflies do not sleep in the same sense as humans and other animals do. They do not have eyelids and that is why they can not close their eyes while resting. During night time when the weather is cold, they hide in the bushes and flowers.
They hand upside down clutching the twigs of trees and plants to balance themselves. It is not hard for them to hang upside down as they need the least amount of energy for resting in this position. They do this to protect themselves from dew drops, rain and early morning predators.
9. Monarch butterflies travel far
The Monarch butterfly which is the most common butterfly known, travel one of the longest journeys. They are known to travel from the Northern Great Lakes in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.
This journey is 1,800 miles long and is not possible for one generation of the Monarch butterfly to cover. Hence, they lay eggs on the way which after hatching and becoming butterflies continue their journey.
10. They are helpful for the environment
Butterflies help in many natural processes. They help in plant pollination just like the bees. The pollen sticks on their feet when they land on the flowers to suck nectar. They are an important part of the food chain.
The caterpillar and larvae are the food source for birds, small mammals, spiders and other insects and reptiles. They also keep checking on some of the plant species from growing out of control. The caterpillars feed on such plants and flowers.
11. Butterfly wings are transparent
It is a shocking fact to know that the colourful wings of the butterfly for which they are famous worldwide are transparent. These wings are covered with thousands of tiny scales and beneath that, the wings are made of transparent chitin.
The scales help the butterfly wings to reflect light in various colours which we see. As the butterflies grow old, the scales fall off from the wings leaving transparent spots.
Different Types of Butterflies
There are various species and types of butterflies found in the entire world. Scientists have an estimated count of 24,000 species of these butterflies. The types have a wider range too. Let us have a look at some most common types of these beautiful creatures along with little information about them.
- Swallowtails have tail-like extensions on their hind wings.
- Brush-footed Butterflies have two pairs of legs.
- Red Admiral is a migratory butterfly and is fast flying.
- The Monarch Butterfly is a poisonous one and is common worldwide.
- Blue Morpho has blue wings and drinks the juice of rotten fruit.
- Mourning Cloak Butterfly has unusual fore wings.
- Ulysses Butterfly is an emblem of tourism in Australia’s Queensland.
- Glasswing Butterfly has beautiful crystal clear transparent wings that look like glass.
- Giant Owl Butterfly has an owl’s eye-like pattern on its wings.
- Peacock Butterfly makes a hissing sound when alarmed.
What is the difference between Butterfly and Dragonfly?
Butterflies and Dragonflies attract the kids most among the rest of the insect species. They are also the most amazing insects with some super amazing facts about them. But even though they both are insects sharing some features, they are different from each other as well. Let us find out how.
- The butterflies belong to the order Lepidoptera and the dragonflies belong to the Odonata
- Butterflies mostly feed on nectar whereas dragonflies are predators that feed on other insects.
- Butterflies have large antennae whereas dragonflies have small antennae.
- Most of the butterflies have colourful wings but the dragonfly wings are transparent.
- The butterfly life starts on the land whereas that of the dragonfly starts in the water.
In case you want to know more about the dragonflies, you can check out our article here- 11 Amazing Dragonfly Facts for Kids
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are multiple theories regarding this. Some say that the butterflies used to like eating butter and other dairy products which is why they were named butterflies. Another theory says that initially when they were discovered they were of a buttery cream colour and that is why they were named so.
The baby butterflies are called nymphs.
Butterflies have a single long chambered heart.
Butterflies are the adult stage of certain insects that belong to the group Lepidoptera.
Butterflies are born out of eggs. The caterpillars come out when the eggs hatch which later transforms into a butterfly.
They are mostly known for drinking nectar from flowers. Some of them get their food from organic materials like rotting animal matter and plant matter.
They drink nectar from flowers through their tongue which is like a straw similar to the trunk of an elephant.
They are found everywhere except the continent of Antarctica be it desert, wetlands, grassland, and forests.
The life cycle depends on the species. On average, they live for two to four weeks.
They die of old age and human factors including changes in their habitat and climatic conditions.
They have tiny openings along the sides of their bodies through which the butterflies and caterpillars breathe.
Butterflies have wings that are covered in scales.
Yes, like every other insect the adult butterflies have six legs.
The butterflies can smell through their antennae and their feet. Their taste sensors are also located in their feet and that is why they can taste their food with their feet.
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing which has the largest wingspan among all the species of butterflies measures 11 inches.
They have single and compound eyes. They have 12,000 compounds eyes which act as their main eyesight and the single-chambered eyes help in focusing on individual objects.
While they have compound eyes and are known to have 360-degree vision, some scientists say that they can not see their own wings.
They have a wide range of vision in comparison to humans. They can see red, blue, yellow, and green colours mostly and some other colours as well.
A butterfly has two pairs of wings, two fore wings and two hind wings.
The butterfly wings are covered in scales and do not have any bone in them.
The proboscis is used by the butterflies to eat and drink nectar and other things.
Butterflies sleep hanging upside down underneath a leaf.
Ordinary or pigmented colour and structural colour are responsible for the colours you see on the butterflies. The normal chemicals absorb and reflect wavelengths to give the colours. Also, when the observer moves, the structure of the butterfly wings makes the colour change.
Rainbow butterflies do not exist in real life. They are the digital creations of mankind.
The most important role they play in the environment is helping in pollination. They are an important part of the food cycle eating and being eaten by other organisms. They live in a healthy environment indicating low levels of climate change.
The smallest butterfly in the world measuring only half an inch is the American Pygmy Blue.
These were some eye-catching butterfly facts for kids. The butterfly population is getting lesser day by day due to human activities and development plans. You can always create an ideal garden to attract the butterfly population and see them grow around you.