Facts about Butterflies

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Summer’s flirty creatures of the wind, bopping from flower to flower, emanating a breeze of elegant and  intricate designs.   Butterflies have always been synonymous with the gladness of   life, curiously ethereal and always welcomed by shrieks of excitement.

1. Seen during the summer in temperate areas and year- long in the tropics, these creatures of fancy have been flying around since 3500 years ago. The earliest historical records of the existence of butterflies indicate those found in Egyptian frescoes at Thebes.

2. In the English language, the word ‘˜butterfly’ originated from the old English word ‘˜butterfloege’ due to the tendency of butterflies to fly and hover over buttermilk.

3. Butterflies are found in every country in the world except the Antarctica.  Peru wins hands down with a recorded total of 3,700 (20% of the world) with a potential revision to 4,200.  Peru’s has the right package in terms of its conducive climate and a rich diversified ecology for the breeding of butterflies.

4. Ranging in size from 1/8 inch to almost 12 inches, globally, there are an estimated 24000 species of butterflies.

5. Most of the bigger varieties of butterflies are found in the warmer climates.  Butterflies are cold blooded insects and the warm weather assists in growth and regeneration.

6. Butterflies of the Altinote species protect themselves by flaunting its vibrant reddish tones colours and tasting unpalatable. Predators take on a   ‘˜once bitten twice shy’ stance by keeping away from such species.

7. The next best option for those of the species who happen to be palatable is mimicry.  As postulated by Henry Bates in 1861, the Viceroy , a palatable species, would imitate the obnoxious tasting species, the Monarch. Predators, due to past unpleasant tasting experiences with the Monarch would keep away from the Viceroy.

8.  Unfortunately, notwithstanding Henry Bates, butterflies are no match for the biggest predator of all, Man.  In parts of Asia, Mexico and Africa, butterflies are considered a delicacy and served as an appetizer and dessert.

9. The diet of butterflies ranges  from the nectar of flowers , rotting fruits, minerals and in the extreme – rotting flesh.  Nymphalids feed on rotting fruits while Swallotail and Sulphurs drink urine and the Hesperine skippers have opted for bird droppings. 7 In parts of South America, Julia butterflies have been spotted sipping from a caiman’s eye.

10. Butterflies are known to travel fast and long ranging up to a speed of 12 miles per hour. Monarchs are known to fly from Michigan to down south to Mexico, a distance of about 2500 miles per year.

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