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Monday, November 2, 2015
Butterflies are part of the class of insects in the order Lepidoptera, along with the moths. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. The group comprises the large superfamily Papilionoidea, along with two smaller groups, the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). Butterfly fossils date to the Palaeocene, about 56 million years ago.
Butterflies have the typical four-stage insect life cycle. Winged adults lay eggs on the food plant on which their larvae, known as caterpillars, will feed. The caterpillars grow, sometimes very rapidly, and when fully developed pupate in a chrysalis. Whenmetamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits, the adult insect climbs out and, after its wings have expanded and dried, it flies off. Some butterflies, especially in the tropics, have several generations in a year, while others have a single generation, and a few in cold locations may take several years to pass through their whole life cycle.
Butterflies are often polymorphic, and many species make use of camouflage, mimicry and aposematism to evade their predators. Some, like the monarch and the painted lady, migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have parasitoidalrelationships with organisms including protozoans, flies, ants, and other invertebrates, and are predated by vertebrates. Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; other species are agents ofpollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies (e.g., harvesters) eat harmful insects. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.
he wings of the butterfly are made of hard tubes covered with thin tissue. The wings are covered with scales, which are like a fine dust.
Some butterflies can fly 50km/h or faster. Slow flying butterflies probably fly about 10km/h.
Speaking of butterflies eating, adult butterflies can only feed on liquids, usually nectar. Their mouthparts are modified to enable them to drink, but they can't chew solids. A proboscis, which functions as a drinking straw, stays curled up under the butterfly's chin until it finds a source of nectar or other liquid nutrition.