mariposa was really called Lepidópteros (Lepidoptera) They are an order of holometabolic insects that can normally fly. The best known are the diurnal butterflies, but there are a great variety of nocturnal species (moths, sphinxes, peacocks, etc.) that go very unnoticed.


There are some 165.000 species classified in 127 families and 46 superfamilies, although there are still many to be discovered that inhabit dense forests where there is hardly any contact with humans. The different species vary in size and color, as well as in bright wing patterns.



The brightest and most colorful are found in the tropical jungles of the southern hemisphere, and can reach large sizes. The largest is the Birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae) where the female reaches about 31 cm of wingspan. The male is slightly smaller and lives in southeastern New Guinea.


The size varies according to the species of butterflies but they range between 10 - 25 cm (not counting the wingspan) and a weight between 0,25 - 0,75 g. Generally, females tend to be larger than males.

Life varies by species, but generally, a butterfly does not live longer than 14 days. Although other species such as Manto de mud (Nymphalis autiopa)They have the ability to hibernate when the cold arrives and re-emerge when spring begins, surviving up to 10 months. Other butterflies carry out migrations like the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) that when winter arrives they migrate to Mexico and part of California when winter arrives, in this way they manage to survive between 8 - 10 months.

The morphology of butterflies is common between species and all have: antenna, head, eyes, proboscis, thorax, inner wing, outer wing, abdomen, front leg, middle leg and hind leg. All these parts are divided into three sections that make up the body of the butterfly. The three sections are: the head, the thorax and the abdomen.

The head is the first section and here we find the antenna, compound eyes, the throbbing and the proboscis. The antenna is used to capture the chemoreception of sugars. The eye is made up of hundreds of ommatid cells that capture light and act as a single lens. The tongue is called proboscis, it is an elongated oral organ used to suck food, it is common in some insects.

The thorax, which is the second section, is made up of three segments. Each pair of legs is located on a segment and the pairs of legs are attached, too.

The adbomen, belonging to the third and last section, is composed of ten segments where the vital organs are found and the reproductive organs are in the last three segments.

Butterflies belonging to the same order, are often confused with moths and vice versa. Butterfly species are generally brightly colored while moths tend to be muted, although there are always exceptions.

The most fascinating characteristic of the butterfly is that during its life cycle it undergoes a process of metamorphosis. It begins its life as a caterpillar, which is wrapped in a silk thread and later emerges as a butterfly with colorful wings.


As we have mentioned before, the butterfly's tongue is called a proboscis and is the oral organ of various insects. The tongue is long, straw-like, and is capable of curling itself into a spiral when at rest. When it is used to suck the nectar it is stretched completely.


The butterfly can inhabit everywhere, but most of the species are concentrated in warm forests and tropical jungles.


Butterflies live anywhere where there is vegetation, so it is found on all continents except Antarctica. However, they prefer warm and temperate climates.


The butterfly are herbivorous animalsas it only eats vegetables that are high in sugar. It jumps from flower to flower, looking for the nectar of the flowers. While feeding, it also transfers pollen from between its legs which makes the butterfly play a fundamental role in the pollination of plants around the world.


The butterfly is prey to various predators because of its small size and striking wings. The main predators are amphibians like frogs and newts, small reptiles like lizards, and mammals like bats.


The butterfly goes through four stages in its life: egg, larva or caterpillar, whore and adult butterfly. During their development they undergo a complete metamorphosis, that is, when they reach their adult stage they do not look at all like their initial stage, this process is called holometábolos among the insects that experience it.

It reproduces when the male inserts his sperm into the female's bag. When the female is ready to spawn her eggs, she must self-fertilize them, as she releases her eggs that go into the sperm bag and that is when they are actually fertilized.

They can lay up to 100 eggs, although it varies between species. Some do it in groups (all at once) and others put them on different plants individually. The egg hatches into larvae (also called caterpillars) that have the goal of eating and growing as much as possible before it breaks free from its exoskeleton and becomes a pupa.

Group of butterfly pupae

Group of butterfly pupae

To become a chrysalis or pupa, the caterpillar will wrap itself in a cocoon and undergo numerous changes. During this stage it will not remain for weeks or months, depending on the species. Nor will she eat. When it comes out it will do so as an adult butterfly.

Butterflies emerging from the pupa

Butterflies emerging from the pupa

State of conservation

The butterfly is present in numerous species, therefore it is difficult to determine their conservation but globally they are classified as "Least Concern".

Popular culture

Butterflies have amazed humans because of their gentle nature and bright colors. Therefore, they have been represented in art and literature around the planet and through different cultures.

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