Bold & Beautiful Butterflies
Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis, they go through four different life stages. Look at the amazing transformation!
They start as an egg, often laid on a leaf.
The egg hatches and the larva (caterpillar) eats the leaves or flowers almost constantly. The caterpillar molts multiple times as it grows and increases up to several thousand times in size.
The caterpillar then turns into a pupa (also known as chrysalis).
Finally, the adult butterfly emerges, and this adult will continue the cycle by laying eggs.
HOW DO THEY EAT?
During the caterpillar stage, they spend most of their time eating leaves using strong mandibles (also known as their jaws). After they have developed into adults, butterflies take in liquid food using a tube-like proboscis, which is a long, flexible “tongue.”
This amazing part of the butterfly works like a long “straw” that uncoils to sip food, and coils up again into a spiral when not in use. Most butterflies live on nectar from flowers, but there are some that take liquids from rotting fruits and a rare few prefer rotting animal flesh or animal fluids.
For example, there are some carnivorous species, such as the Harvester butterfly, that feed on aphids! They pierce the bodies of woolly aphids with their sharp proboscises and drink the body fluids!
THEIR WINGS AND SPEED
You may think that a butterfly’s wings are just two flat and soft pieces joined to its body, but it is so much more than that – if only you took a much closer look. Butterflies have two pairs of large wings covered with colourful, shimmering scales that overlap one another, row after row. These scales, however, are only visible under a microscope and many times of magnification.
Butterflies and moths are also the only insects with scaly wings that are attached to the body.
Butterflies can only fly when they are warm! This is why they 'sun' themselves to warm up in cool weather. As butterflies age, the color of the wings fades and the wings become ragged. The flying speed of butterflies varies among each species, but the fastest butterflies can fly at almost 50 km per hour or faster.
TECHNOLOGY MIMICS NATURE!
Did you know that butterflies have inspired technology? The brilliant colours of the Morpho butterfly for instance are created by the unique scale structure of their wings. This has inspired technology to use a similar concept of structure and design to control light in optical communications, imaging, computing and sensing.