Skip to Main Content

Butterflies: Natural Science


What are Butterflies?

Butterflies, (superfamily Papilionoidea), are any of numerous species of insects belonging to multiple families. Butterflies, along with the moths and the skippers, make up the insect order Lepidoptera. Butterflies are nearly worldwide in their distribution.

The wings, bodies, and legs, like those of moths, are covered with dustlike scales that come off when the animal is handled. Unlike moths, butterflies are active during the day and are usually brightly coloured or strikingly patterned. Perhaps the most distinctive physical features of the butterfly are its club-tipped antennae and its habit of holding the wings vertically over the back when at rest. The lepidopteran life cycle has four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult (imago). The larvae and adults of most butterflies feed on plants, often only specific parts of specific types of plants. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

Watch a Video

Books about Butterflies

Butterflies play an important role in pollinating flowers, particularly flowers that have a strong scent, are red or yellow in color and produce a large amount of nectar. Nectar is an important component of a butterfly’s diet.

An abundance of butterflies is often an indication that an ecosystem is thriving. This is due to the fact that butterflies are an important component of a food chain, as predators and prey. Adult butterflies and caterpillars are an important source of food for other animals such as bats and birds.

As natural habitats are being destroyed to accommodate new developments, the importance of gardening in ensuring robust butterfly populations is becoming more evident. Creating a butterfly ecosystem within your garden as well as in parks and other naturalized areas helps combat this loss of natural habitats. Continue reading from Sciencing

link to 100 plants to feed the monarch by xerces society by eric lee mader and others in the catalog
Link to The Amazing Monarch by Windle Turley in Hoopla
link to iconotypes a compendium of butterflies and moths in partnership with Oxford Museum of natural history in the catalog
Link to Butterflies of North America by Jim Brock & Kevin Kaufman in the Catalog
Link to Butterflies: A Backyard Guide by Erin Gettler in Hoopla
Link to Gardening for Butterflies by Scott Black in the Catalog
Link to 600 Butterflies & Moths in Full Color W.F. Kirby in Hoopla
Link to 500 Butterflies from Around the World by Ken Preston-Mafham in the Catalog
link to the last butterflies by nick haddad
link to garden allies by frederique lavoipierre

Link to Discover the Natural World Resource Guide Series Homepage