& moths


Small butterfly

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cellular organisms - Eukaryota - Fungi/Metazoa group - Metazoa - Eumetazoa - Bilateria - Coelomata - Protostomia - Panarthropoda - Arthropoda - Mandibulata - Pancrustacea - Hexapoda - Insecta - Dicondylia - Pterygota - Neoptera - Endopterygota - Amphiesmenoptera - Lepidoptera

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Interesting facts

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Developmental stages (life cycle)

All butterflies pass four main stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. Time frame varies between species. In summer, monarch butterfly's life cycle from egg to adult takes about 6-8 weeks. Migrating and overwintering fall monarch butterflies live for 5-8 months depending on the time when they awakened and distance they had to cover during their migration.

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Photo gallery

Life cycle stages

Butterflies mating Monarch butterflies' mating. Mating results in fertilization of female's eggs, after which she becomes ready to lay eggs.
Butterfly egg Monarch butterfly's egg.
Catterpillars Caterpillars of Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) on their host plant Chelone glabra (turtlehead). See below for more information about this butterfly.
Eclosed butterfly Newly eclosed Monarch butterfly among chrysalises on different stages of development.
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Baltimore Checkerspot
Photo license & attribution
Euphydryas phaeton (Baltimore Checkerspot). Common in Massachusetts and New York (United States). Prefer wet, low areas where form colonies (50-200 individuals). Univoltine. In July females deposit several large egg clusters (200-300 eggs). Newly-hatched larvae move to the top of the host plant, turtlehead (Chelone glarba), and build a communal web. During this period the major larval parasitoid Apanteles euphydryidis attends the webs. In mid to late August, the third instar larvae stop eating and, after molting, enter diapause. They overwinter in leaves at the base of the host plant and emerge in spring to resume feeding and complete development.
Hungry post-diapause larvae may wander substantial distances in search of new host plant. Both larvae and adults contain iridoid glycosides, which they ingest from the host plant and which appear to make them unpalatable for insectivor predators. Recently Baltimore Checkerspots undertook host range expansion from its native host, turtlehead, to a weed, plantain, Plantago lanceolata L. that was introduced to United States only 150-200 years ago (i.e. a maximum of 200 generations could have been exposed to this plant). Some colonies started to use the plantain exclusively. Plantain contains different combination of glycosides and plantain-fed butterflies are tolerated by bluejays. There are some other costs associated with changing the host. However, there are some advantages: (1) it ensures species survival if turtlehead's wetland habitats disappear; (2) allows a temporary reduction in parasitoid load; and (3) allows local escape from turtlehead-specializing competitors like sawflies larvae (Macrophya nigra) and Tenthredo grandis.
Great egg-fly Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly), male. Also called Great Egg-fly and Blue Moon Butterfly.
Great egg-fly Hypolimnas bolina, female. The species is a sexually dimorphic (male and female differ in appearance) nymphalid (family Nymphalidae) butterfly distributed from Madagascar to Easter Island (west to east) and from Japan to Australasia (north to south).
Orange Dead Leaf Kallima inachus (Orange Dead Leaf) is a nymphalid butterfly found in tropical Asia from India to Japan. With wings closed, it looks like a dry leaf and is a spectacular example of camouflage. With its wings opened it reveals strikingly bright orange and blue color pattern.
Tailed Jay Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay) is a predominantly fluorescent green and black butterfly that belongs to the swallowtail family. The butterfly is also called Green Spotted Triangle, Tailed Green Jay or Green Triangle. It is a common tropical species in India, Sri Lanka through Southeast Asia, and in Australia.
Red Rim Biblis hyperia (Red Rim) is distributed from Mexico to Paraguay.
Blue morpho Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho) is a beautiful iridescent tropical butterfly found in Mexico, Central America, northern South America, Paraguay and Trinidad. It feeds on juice of rotten fruits.
Tawny Owl Caligo memnon (Tawny Owl) is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family. Found in rainforests of Central America, owl butterflies feed on the juice of rotting fruit.
Grecian Shoemaker Catonephele numilia (Grecian Shoemaker), male. This dimorphic species are distributed from Mexico to South Brazil and Argentina.
Small Postman Heliconius erato (Small Postman) is one of the few butterflies that collects and digests pollen. The species is found throughout northern South America and, depending on location, can have highly variable coloration and form.
Zebra Longwing Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing) is found throughout North, Central and South America and, is and official butterfly of state of Florida (United States). Similar to Heliconius erato, it feeds on pollen.
Common Buckeye butterfly Junonia coenia (Common Buckeye) is found in all parts of the United States except the northwest, and is especially common in the South, the California coast, and throughout Central America and Colombia. Adults feed on nectar.
Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus (Monarch) is very common butterfly that is found from North and South America and the Caribbean to Australia, New Zealand, and some oceanic islands of the Pacific and the Atlantic.
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Guide to butterflies and moths


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