The butterfly is part of the Lepidoptera family. It has the ability to change shape during its life, going from the egg to the caterpillar stage, then chrysalis nymph, before becoming imago (butterfly). There are a multitude of varieties listed depending on the country of the world.
The particular characteristics of butterflies
The butterfly is one of the most widespread insects on the planet. Thanks to fossilized specimens, we can say that they already lived alongside the dinosaurs! There are nearly 170,000 different species, including 7,000 in Europe and more than 5,500 in France. There are also more moths in France than day butterflies: 5,200 called night butterflies compared to 257 called day butterflies.
Butterflies lay eggs from which caterpillars are born. As they grow, they will transform into chrysalises which will give life to the butterfly (imago). These insects are said to undergo complete metamorphosis.
Adult butterflies have 3 pairs of legs and 2 pairs of wings covered with scales. These are variable in shape and often colored. They are very fragile and irreparable.
The different categories of butterflies
Butterflies are classified into 136 families and 43 superfamilies. Some specimens are only visible at night. They are called heterocerae. The imago of this family is active only at dusk. They are generally larger and less shimmering in color.
Other species of butterflies only come out during the day, these are the rhopaloceres. But in reality, this species includes both night and day imagos. Moreover, scientists no longer use this categorization for these insects, because it is considered unfounded. However, we continue to talk about butterflies and moths in everyday language.
No butterfly is identical to the other, but differences are notable depending on the geographical location. Some families of imagos present aesthetic distinctions depending on their place of habitation. This gave rise to the famous subspecies, such as the butterfly Limenitis Arthmis.
There are also so-called plurivoltine species which reproduce several times a year. Depending on the season, they can change size, but also color. The most surprising seasonal transformation is visible in the Geographic Map butterfly which is red with black spots in spring and black with white bands in summer!
On the other hand, the Aglais Io, known for its pretty eyes on its wings, also presents certain so-called “aberrant” subjects, because their wings do not have the “eyes” common to this species, as if they had been erased.
The worrying disappearance of butterflies around the world
Like many pollinators, butterflies are becoming rare across the globe due to human activity. The intensification of agriculture with pesticides or forms of monocultures are the main cause, along with light pollution as well as road mortality.
Since 2016, out of 462 native butterfly species present around the Mediterranean, 19 are threatened with extinction.