A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form. Most species are day-flying so they regularly attract attention. The diverse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly watching a fairly popular hobby. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Some migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Butterflies are important economically as agents of pollination. In addition, a few species are pests, because they can damage domestic crops and trees in their larval stage.
Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.
Unlike many insects, butterflies do not experience a nymph period, but instead go through a pupal stage which lies between the larva and the adult stage (the imago). Butterflies are termed as holometabolous insects, and go through complete metamorphosis.
Larva, known as a caterpillar
Adult butterfly (imago)
It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.
Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.
Egg of Ariadne merioneButterfly eggs consist of a...