What is a butterfly ?
Butterflycorner.net is a homepage about butterflies. But, what exactly is a butterfly? Is there an explicit definition for butterflies, which you can use in the meadow or in the forest?
This article will be clear these questions. We want to understand the body-composition of the butterflies, where is their place in the tree of life and how we can identify a butterfly.
Butterflies are insects
In the tree of life the butterflies are a part of the biggest class. This class named INSECTA contains the insects. All members of this class have the following body-attributes
- 2 Antennae
- 6 Legs
OK, now we know what an insect is. But, are we saddle-fast?
Here is a small check. Which of the following photos shows an insect?
- Image.1 The Garden-Spider is not an insect. Because it has 8 legs.
- Image.2 The Firebug is an insect. It is a member of the order HEMIPTERA (true bugs).
- Image.3 The Dung-Beetle is an insect. It is a member of the order COLEOPTERA (beetle).
- Image.4 The Dragonfly is an insect although you can not see some antennae. It is a member of the order ODONATA (dragonflies).
- Image.5 The Cockroach is an insect. It is a member of the order BLATTODEA (cockroaches).
- Image.6 The Grasshopper is also an insect. It is a member of the order ENSIFERA (katydids)
Now we are experts.
The body-attributes of a butterfly in detail
- Two big compound-eyes dominate the head. But, butterflies see not so clear like a human being. Rather they see a mosaic of many frames. Furthermore these eyes detect an other range of the light spectrum. Butterflies can see ultraviolet light and therefore other colours.
- Two antennae contains the sense of smell and the sens of balance.
- The proboscis can be coiled up like a mainspring and is used to ingestion. Butterflies have no jaw. therefore they can only ingest liquid food like nectar, honeydew, juice of putrefied fruits, excreta or liquids of carrion.
- The palps are very hairy and are used to check the food.
- Four wings with their beautiful colours dominate the thorax. These wings give the butterflies the ability to fly. The muste of the wings is composed by a great many of coloured scales.
Read more: Why are butterflies coloured ?
- Six legs have there source at the thorax. But, sometimes it looks like that some butterflies have only four legs. The members of the Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies) have four normal legs and two very short brush-foots.
The legs contains the sense of taste.
- The abdomen consists of some circular segments and is softer than head or thorax. It contains the genitals. The genitals are different for each species. Therefore they are a very important identifier for entomologists (experts).
The subdivision of Lepidopteran
The order LEPIDOPTERAN contains over 140 000 species. Only approximately 20 000 are diurnal butterflies or simply butterflies. The bigger part are moths. But, moths can also fly at day.
The question is. How we can discriminate between butterflies and moths?
But the answer of this question you will find in an other article.
Read more: Butterly or moth ?