This is a good article. Follow the link for more information. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterflies have the soul of a butterfly pdf four-stage insect life cycle.
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. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts. Denmark, approximately 55 million years old. Maculinea arion Large Blue Upperside SFrance 2009-07-18.
Butterfly antennal shapes, mainly clubbed, unlike those of moths. The thorax is composed of three segments, each with a pair of legs. The long proboscis can be coiled when not in use for sipping nectar from flowers. Butterflies are distributed worldwide except Antarctica, totalling some 18,500 species. These migrations take place over a number of generations and no single individual completes the whole trip. There is a reverse migration in the spring.
Butterflies navigate using a time-compensated sun compass. They can see polarized light and therefore orient even in cloudy conditions. The polarized light near the ultraviolet spectrum appears to be particularly important. Many migratory butterflies live in semi-arid areas where breeding seasons are short. The life histories of their host plants also influence butterfly behaviour. Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species.
Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. Butterflies then land on the ground or on a perch to mate. Copulation takes place tail-to-tail and may last from minutes to hours. Simple photoreceptor cells located at the genitals are important for this and other adult behaviours. This is lined with a thin coating of wax which prevents the egg from drying out before the larva has had time to fully develop. Butterfly eggs vary greatly in size and shape between species, but are usually upright and finely sculptured.
Some species lay eggs singly, others in batches. Many females produce between one hundred and two hundred eggs. Butterfly eggs are fixed to a leaf with a special glue which hardens rapidly. As it hardens it contracts, deforming the shape of the egg.
This glue is easily seen surrounding the base of every egg forming a meniscus. This is viscous and darkens when exposed to air, becoming a water-insoluble, rubbery material which soon sets solid. Eggs are almost invariably laid on plants. Each species of butterfly has its own host plant range and while some species of butterfly are restricted to just one species of plant, others use a range of plant species, often including members of a common family. Butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, consume plant leaves and spend practically all of their time searching for and eating food.