Butterfly Facts: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

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The butterfly is one of the most beautiful insects on the planet with their ornately colored wings and fluttering. Closely related to moths, there are more than 28,000 species of the insect worldwide, varying in size, shape, and color. Their beauty and prevalence have made them a fixture in culture and folklore. Read on to find out more about the butterfly, and look out for part two of our list, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: The Name ‘Butterfly’ Came from Across the Pond

Anglo-Saxons used the name “butterfloege” to describe the creature’s looks. In England, the most common butterfly was the yellow brimstone, whose color resembles butter. The name came over with the first settlers and stuck. There is also a tale where in the colonies, they believed that witches would turn into winged creatures and steal butter.

Number Fourteen: Butterflies Are Descended from Moths

Both are members of the same group, Lepidoptera, even though moths came first and are more prevalent. With the two having similar looks, it is often hard to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth. Typically, butterflies are colored, fly during the day and have golf club-shaped antennae while moths are more greyscale, usually nocturnal and have pipe-cleaner-like antennae.

Number Thirteen: The Rarest Is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

This butterfly is only found in the New Guinea rain forest. It also has the distinction of being the biggest. Due to habitat destruction, it’s almost extinct.

Number Twelve: The Smallest Is the Pygmy Blue

With a wingspan of about half-an-inch, the western pygmy blue is the smallest butterfly in North America. It can be found anywhere from Hawaii to the Persian Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Number Eleven: Cabbage Whites Are Very Common

Variations of this species (the cabbage white) can be found on five of the seven continents. However, it is considered to be an invasive species in many areas, as it is not really native to North America or Australia.

Number Ten: They Breathe Through Spiracles

The spiracles are tiny holes on the sides of the butterfly’s body that are connected to the trachea. Unlike the trachea of a human, the trachea oxygenates the insect’s tissues directly.

Number Nine: Their Wings Are Full of Scales

Technically, “lepidoptera” means “scale wing,” and both butterflies and moths have them. Their colors come from different amounts of melanin, uric acid, flavones and other pigments within the scales. Some insects’ iridescent colors come from structural coloration. Check back soon for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about butterflies.

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