Butterflies have fascinated humankind for millennia and have been interpreted in a variety of ways, from omens of love to personifications of the soul. Nature has reviving colours for all spirits. Reflection of falling water, the rainbow, the sunrays and autumn colour are all lively examples but the butterflies directly connect colours to life. Here is everything you should know about butterflies.

Don’t forget to check out part 1 of this article – All About Butterflies – Part 1

NOTE: As part of our landscaping services in Bangalore, GreenMyLife team can help build a butterfly garden for you ! Get in touch now – call us at 080-33013243

Wings:

Butterfly wings are made of very thin layers of a hardened protein called chitin. On top of these chitin layers are thousands of tiny scales that serve several purposes, which may vary for different species of butterflies. Besides being responsible for the magnificent colour characteristic of butterflies, scales also protect and insulate the insects and aid in the flow of air along their wings as they fly. Scales also may help the butterfly to soak up the heat that flying requires. Since butterflies are cold-blooded, they rely on external sources of heat to bring their core temperature to a high enough level for their bodies to function.

Habits:
Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollen, tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, decaying flesh, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt.

Butterflies use their antennae to sense the air for wind and scents. The antennae come in various shapes and colours. The antennae are richly covered with sensory organs known as sensillae. A butterfly’s sense of taste is about 200 times stronger than humans.

Many species of butterfly maintain territories and actively chase other species or individuals that may stray into them. Some species will bask or perch on chosen perches. The flight styles of butterflies are often characteristic and some species have courtship flight displays. Basking is an activity which is more common in the cooler hours of the morning. Many species will orient themselves to gather heat from the sun.

Habitat:

Butterflies are found all over the world and in all types of environments: hot and cold, dry and moist, at sea level and high in the mountains. Most butterfly species, however, are found in tropical areas, especially tropical rainforests. Many butterflies migrate over long distances in order to avoid adverse environmental conditions. Spectacular and large scale migrations associated with the Monsoons are seen in peninsular India.

Butterflies are cold blooded creatures and seek the sun to warm them.  Normally they don’t even come out on cloudy days.  Having an open sunny area will bring on the butterflies. If the temperature is too hot, however, butterflies will seek shade. They like to feed around the edges of the garden or wooded areas.  If you plant tall flowers near trees and shorter flower on the borders of your flower beds or lawn, you are more likely to have butterflies come to stay.

Puddles are favourite places for male butterflies to get a nice drink of water, so leave a few depressions where the rain water can collect.  Butterflies get salts from the wet soil.  Animal droppings are also a butterfly treat, if you can handle that.  Another good water source you can provide is a shallow water bowl buried to ground level.  If you put over ripe fruit in it, you will also provide some nourishment for those butterflies that eat rotting fruit.

Butterflies like to rest on the lower dead branches of trees or standing dead trees.  If you put mulch around the host plants, caterpillars will have a safe place to hide by day.  They usually feed at night when there are fewer predators.  Some species of butterflies pupate under the mulch, so when fall comes do not disturb the mulch in the garden often.

Threats:

The greatest threats to butterflies are habitat change and loss due to residential, commercial and agricultural development. Climate change is also threatening species of butterfly. Harsh winds and rains can beat butterflies down and drown them.

Butterflies also have their own enemies: Birds, small mammals, lizards, snakes and spiders, all prey on them. Also, both butterflies and caterpillars are sensitive to pesticide and herbicide use. Butterfly gardens can reduce these hazards, though, by providing a pesticide-free environment with easy access to sunlight and sheltering spots.

Common Butterflies in India:

  • Tree Nymph butterfly (Binomial name – Idea malabarica)
TreeNymphButterfly

Tree Nymph Butterfly

  • Tamil lacewing (Binomial name – Cethosia nietneri)
Tamil_Lacewing

Tamil lacewing

  • Orange oak leaf or dead leaf butterfly (Binomial name – Kallima inachus)
dead leaf butterfly

Orange oak leaf or dead leaf butterfly

  • Southern Birdwing (Binomial name – Troides minos)
Southern_Birdwing

Southern Birdwing

  • Great Eggfly (Binomial name – Hypolimnas bolina)
Great Eggfly

Great Eggfly

 

NOTE: As part of our landscaping services in Bangalore, GreenMyLife team can help build a butterfly garden for you ! Get in touch now – call us at 080-33013243

Happy gardening

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