They’re colorful, graceful, and beautiful, but butterflies are also quite amazing creatures! March 14th is Learn About Butterflies Day, making this the perfect opportunity to explore some little known butterfly facts that are both surprising and amazing.
1. We’re used to butterflies that can fit in the palm of our hand, but the biggest butterfly in the world is much larger than that. The Queen Alexandra Birdwing lives in the rainforest and has wingspans as large as 10-12 inches!
2. Butterflies can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees. That explains why you often see them spreading their wings in the sun.
3. Butterfly wings are incredibly intricate and fragile, made up of tiny transparent scales overlapping one another.
4. These winged beauties live less than a year. The longest lifespan for any type of butterfly is around 9-10 months, while most live only a few weeks.
5. Some butterflies taste with their feet. They do this to determine whether the leaf they’ve landed on is a good place to lay their eggs.
6. Feeling hungry? Well, you could eat a butterfly! Many cultures of the world routinely eat insects, including butterflies, because they’re a good source of protein.
7. Butterflies use their bright colors as a way to ward off predators. While butterflies aren’t toxic, many other brightly colored insects are, so butterflies mimic their appearance as a way to trick other animals looking for a snack.
8. These fluttering insects move fast. The fastest butterfly flies around 12 miles per hour.
9. Butterflies can’t fly right away. When they come out of their chrysalis, their wings are small and shriveled. They have to pump them full of fluid and allow them to harden a bit before taking flight for the first time.
10. Adult butterflies rely on liquid to survive. Once they’ve passed the caterpillar stage, butterflies aren’t able to chew solids. They must drink liquids, like nectar from flowers, using their long, straw-like proboscis.
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