Butterfly Facts: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 2)


Earlier, we brought you part one of our list of 15 interesting facts about the butterfly. Now, we bring you part two, with eight more facts about this colorful insect, whose more than 28,000 species can be found all over the world and has a permanent place in human culture and folklore.

Number Eight: The Butterfly Is a Symbol of the Soul

One of the most common mythologies associated with the butterfly is that they represent a person’s soul. In ancient Japanese culture, the insect’s appearance is associated with both the living and the dead, as well as with both good and bad omens. Roman depictions of butterflies exiting a person’s mouth represent the soul leaving the body. Further, ancient Greeks used the word “psyche” to describe the insect, a word which also means “soul or mind.”

Number Seven: They Live Less Than a Year

Though there is a big range in how long they live, most species don’t live longer than a year. The mean life span ranges from four days to 11 months – that is, if they don’t get eaten by something else first.

Number Six: They Are Good Pollinators

Next to bees, butterflies are one of the best carriers of pollen. They are able to carry pollen over long distances, making them important to the spread of certain plants.

Number Five: They Only Consume Liquids

While as larvae they primarily eat leaves from their host plant, adults take in only water and nectar. They use their special, straw-like tongues, called the proboscis, to sip nectar for sugar, sodium and other minerals. Some even feed on rotting vegetable and fecal matter.

Number Four: Some Butterflies Do Not Feed

There are certain species which do not have a proboscis or any type of mouth parts for that matter. These species usually do not live long lives.

Number Three: They Taste With Their Feet

With antennae for feeling and a proboscis for feeding, taste receptors are relocated to the insect’s feet. Usually, this is how they find which leaves are good for laying their eggs.

Number Two: They Migrate Using a Time-Compensated Sun Compass

Not all butterflies migrate, but the ones that do, including monarchs and painted ladies, use polarized light to navigate to their intended destinations. This system lets them find their way, even under cloudy conditions. However, no single insect completes an entire migration, which usually occurs over many generations.

Number One: Their Wings Have Led to Scientific Discoveries

Scientists have been studying the structural coloration of butterfly wings for years in order to mimic some of their properties to make human life better. One such study of swallowtail wings helped to make LED lights more efficient. Another inspired research into finding a replacement for toxic paint pigments. Thank you for reading our list of 15 interesting facts about butterflies. We hope you enjoyed it!