Flowers Symbolize Beautiful Growth & Butterflies Are Angels Sent to Us from Heaven to Brighten Our Days

Butterfly Information

Blue Morpho Butterfly

Blue morpho butterflies belong to the Nymphalidae family - genus Morpho and species Menelaus. They live in the tropical forests of Latin America from Mexico to Colombia, and spend most of their time on the ground near shrubs and trees.

Blue morphos are among the largest butterflies in the world with a wingspan of 5-8 inches. As the name implies, the wings are blue; however, the color is not a true blue (pigmentation) - the coloring is a result of microscopic scales on the backs of the wings, which reflect blue light. The male's wings are broader and brighter in color than the female's wings. Females also have a brown edge with white spots surrounding the blue area. The underside of blue morpho's wings are brown with bronze-colored eyespots.

These beautiful butterflies have a few defense mechanisms to help protect them from predators like birds and large insects. When their wings are closed, the dull brown color blends in with their surroundings, hiding them from their enemies, and their eyespots look like eyes, scaring off their predators. When flying, the contrasting blue and brown colors flash, making it look like they are appearing and disappearing, making it hard for the would-be killer to attack them.

Blue morpho caterpillars are reddish-brown with bright patches of lime-green on their backs. They eat at night, and are especially fond of leaves in the pea family. If disturbed, they will secrete a foul smelling fluid. The butterflies generally drink juice from rotting or fermenting fruit.

Blue morphos can live about 115 days, and are severely threatened by deforestation of tropical forests and people from around the world capturing and displaying them.

Picture courtesy of globetrottergirls

Birdwing Butterflies

Birdwing butterflies belong in the Papilionidae family and are usually regarded as belonging to three genera: Ornithoptera, Trogonoptera and Troides. The name "birdwing" is derived from the insect's Latin name "Ornithoptera" - they are named for their exceptional size, angular wings and birdlike flight. Birdwings can be found in southeast Asia, the East Indies and tropical Australia. These beautiful butterflies soar above the forest canopy and seldom come to earth.

Birdwings are some of the largest butterflies in the world. The Queen Alexandra's Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) is said to be the largest with a wingspan of up to 12 inches, making it bigger than many birds. The Goliath Birdwing (Ornithoptera goliath) is said to be the second largest with a wingspan of up to 11 inches. Most males are black with yellow, green and/or blue colors, and most females are brown with creamy white markings. Females are larger than the males.

Birdwing chrysalids (pupal stage) are camouflaged to look like a dead leaf or twig. The caterpillars are voracious eaters, and may resort to cannibalism if overcrowded. The vines the caterpillars feed on contain a poisonous compound known to be carcinogenic in rats. The poison, which will persist into adulthood, help to protect them from predators - those who eat one and become sick quickly learn to avoid eating them in the future. Butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers that grow high above the ground.

All birdwings are protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Picture courtesy of Lisa Cancade

Diana Butterfly

The Diana butterfly (Speyeria diana) is a member of a large genus in the subfamily Heliconiinae of the family Nymphalidae. The species was named in honor of Diana, the Roman goddess of light and life.

The male is brownish black with orange markings, and the female is black with bright blue markings and white spots. The male and female are rather large butterflies, with wingspans of 3 to 4 inches - the female is larger than the male.

Dianas can be found in forested mountains and valleys in southern and eastern North America, primarily in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, and the southern Appalachians from central Virginia and West Virginia through the mountains to northern Georgia and Alabama. The Diana butterfly was designated the official butterfly of the State of Arkansas in 2007.

Diana butterflies are unusual in that they do not lay eggs directly on the host plant (violets) - instead they lay their eggs on dead twigs and leaves near the plant. The caterpillar is mostly black with many orange and black spikes, and feeds on the leaves of the violet plant. Adults feed on flower nectar from a variety of flowers, including milkweed, ironweed, the purple coneflower, red clover, thistle and the butterfly bush. They will also sip on rotting dung and carcasses.

Dianas are long-lived, usually four to five months as adults. They are considered a sensitive species, and are not commonly seen.

Male picture courtesy of  Mark Corder
Female picture courtesy of Bill Bouton

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

There are two species of tiger swallowtails: the eastern (Pterourus glaucus) and the western (Pterourus rutulus). They are called a swallowtail because they have a long tail on each hindwing that resembles the long, pointed tail of the swallow (bird).

These beautiful butterflies are quite large, with a wingspan of 4-5 inches. Both species - males and females - are yellow and black with striped markings, resembling a tiger. However, the female eastern swallowtail is the only one that has two forms: yellow and black, and black with a dark color replacing the yellow color. Western swallowtails are normally smaller in size and more pale in color (yellow) than eastern swallowtails.

Tiger swallowtails live throughout the US in many types of environments, including grasslands, woodlands and cities. Their diet consists of nectar from flowers and overripe fruits. Favorite flowers include the purple coneflower, oregano, zinnias and the butterfly bush. The caterpillars, which resemble a bird dropping to protect them from predators, eat mainly leaves - preferred plants include birch, willow, aspen, wild cherry, ash and poplar.

Tiger swallowtail butterflies live about one month. The eastern species is the state butterfly of Delaware, Georgia and South Carolina, and the state insect of Virginia.

Picture courtesy of TexasEagle

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Zebra longwings (Heliconius charithonia) belong in the Nymphalidae family. They can be found in the southern parts of the United States, Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean.

These beautiful butterflies have long, narrow wings (2-4 inches in length) that are black with light yellow zebra-like stripes. They fly slowly and don't startle easily, making them easy to follow and observe. When alarmed, it will make a creaking sound by wiggling its body.

Zebras lay their eggs on passion vine leaves. The caterpillars will feed on these leaves which contain toxins, making the adult butterflies bad tasting and poisonous to predators. The butterflies prefer nectar from plants belonging in the Verbena family, and are the only known butterflies to eat pollen, which is probably why they have a longer lifespan compared to other butterflies - 6 months compared to the typical 1 month.

At night, large groups of zebras (up to 70) will roost together. I took the above picture on my land - when the sun began to set, they would return to the same piece of moss hanging from the tree. In southern Florida, they can live year round - I have seen them live year round in my area (north-central Florida).

In 1996, the zebra longwing was declared the official butterfly for the state of Florida.

Top picture courtesy of Museum of Life and Science

European Peacock Butterfly

This beautiful butterfly got its name because of the similarity between the eye patterns on the butterfly's wings and those on the bird's tails. The wings are rusty red in color, and each wing bears a distinctive black, blue and yellow eyespot. The undersides of the wings are dark brown or black in color. The female is a bit larger than the male with a wingspan of about 2 inches.

Peacocks are a common butterfly from temperate regions of Europe and Asia. They can be found in pastures, fields, meadows, woods, parks and gardens - in lowlands, hills and mountains as high as 8,200 feet. They live a relatively long life, up to one year. Large groups hibernate during the winter in hollow trees and other hiding places such as barns and attics. In early spring, they re-emerge to mate and breed.

The female can lay up to 400 eggs on the leaves of nettle plants and hops which the caterpillars (black with spines) will feed on. The butterflies drink nectar from a variety of flowering plants, including dandelions, asters, thistles and wild marjoram. They will also feed upon sap from deciduous trees and overripe fruit.

The eyespots on the wings help protect peacock butterflies from predators, and when alarmed, they can make a hissing sound by rubbing their wings together.

Picture courtesy of Korall

Southern Dogface Butterfly

The dogface butterfly is a member of the Pieridae family (which includes sulphur and white butterflies). The upperside forewings have a "dog face" pattern - the black dot being the dog's eye. The black markings on females are reduced and less intense than those on males. The wingspan is about 2 - 2 1/2 inches.

Dogface butterflies can be found in South America and in southern parts of the United States, but they are known to stray up north to other states. They live in cities, suburbs and towns, meadows and fields, forests and woodlands, deserts and brushlands, and can be found flying throughout the year. The male is the active flight partner.

The butterflies drink nectar from flowers, including alfalfa and verbena, and are fond of puddling (especially the males). The green caterpillars with black and yellow stripes feed on small-leaved plants in the pea family, indigo and clovers.

Picture courtesy of fsmodel

Postman Butterfly

Postman butterflies (Heliconius melpomene) are widespread throughout Central America and South America. They are commonly seen living on the edges of forests, near rivers and streams.

These tropical butterflies have many geographic subspecies with different markings. They are black with a variety of red, orange or yellow bands on their forewings and/or hindwings. They are poisonous, and these colors warn their predators of this. The wings are long, about 1 1/2 inches.

Postman butterflies fly erratically and roost in small groups at night. They feed on pollen and flower nectar - lantana flowers being a favorite. The caterpillars (which have a white body with black thorns) feed only on the leaves of passion flowers.

The male butterfly is known to use an anti-aphrodisiacs after mating by leaving an odor on a mated female to ward off other suitors.

 Picture courtesy of Greg Hume

Painted Jezebel Butterfly

The painted jezebel (Delias hyparete) is a medium sized butterfly that belongs to the Pieridae family. It is one of the most colorful and attractive butterflies in the world. The wings are white with bold black veins, and brilliant hues of yellow and red on the undersides. Males are often paler and have less black on their wings than the females. These colors warn predators that they are toxic.

These beautiful butterflies can be found in Asia in gardens and open woods. They are lofty fliers, having been described as nonchalant, graceful and slow moving. They are usually seen at tree canopy level, but will come down occasionally to feed on nectaring flowers. They have been spotted flying in all sorts of weather, even when the sky turns dark and menacing - a behavior that is highly unusual for most butterfly species.

Unlike many caterpillars, which are considered agricultural pests, the painted jezebel caterpillars are classified as beneficial because of their diet of tree parasites.

Picture courtesy of Alan Wong

Saturn Butterfly

The saturn butterfly (Zeuxidia amethystus) is a medium sized species that belongs to the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Morphinae. They have a wingspan of about 3.9 - 4.3 inches. The underside of their wings present a leaf-like appearance with cryptic markings on a brown background (the female is paler than the male) which helps them to blend in well with dead leaves and twigs. The male's upperside wings are black and blue, and the female's are yellow and orange.

Saturn butterflies can be found in dark shady forests in the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo, Burma and Sumatra. They generally fly no more than a few feet above the ground and usually feed on fallen fruits, such as pineapple, guava, figs and papaya, on the forest floor. Saturns are normally active in the early morning hours and towards the later part of the day. They are spooked easily but tend to be less skittish when feeding on rotting fruit.

Picture courtesy of kampang

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the diana butterfly. I've only seen pictures of them. Wish I could see a real one. Would also like to see the big birdwing.