Butterflies are beautiful insects of nature and often admired for their vibrant colors. According to The American Heritage Dictionary, they belong to the biological order of Lepidoptera, and have distinct characteristics: slender bodies, knobbed antennae, and four wings (Dictionary.com). The Lepidoptera classification order is derived from Greek origin meaning “scales” and “wings” (Jeananda Col).
Butterflies are members of the insect family and their traits include 3 pairs of legs, a segmented body, and two pairs of wings. Although they are members of the insect family, and carry the same characteristics of other insects, butterflies generally appeal to people where most insects do not (Earthlife.net).
Why are butterflies so unique? One distinguishing reason can be found by exploring a butterfly’s life cycle. Butterflies go through the process of metamorphosis: a distinct transformation from an egg to a butterfly.
LIFE STAGES OF A BUTTERFLY
As a result of metamorphosis, butterflies go through a series of four, very distinct, life-type changes.
The four stages include: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
The time length of the development cycle of the butterfly varies from species to species and from climate to climate (Monarch Watch). There are more than 150,000 species recognized however most of these are moths.
NOTE: All visuals have been removed to comply with publishing rules of this site.
Dictionary.com “The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition” Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin http://dictionary. reference.com/search?q=insect
HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) “Where Do Butterflies Come From? http://www.hhmi.org/coolscience/butterfly/ 9/29/04
Jeananda Col, “All About Butterflies” http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/butterfly/
Monarch Watch 9/29/04 http://www.monarchwatch.org/biology/anat3.htm
“The Lepidoptera Part 1. Butterflies” 9/29/04 http://www.earthlife.net/insects/lepidop1.html#3