Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a butterfly?
    A butterfly is a type of insect. Insects are distinguished from all other animals by having an external skeleton (a hard outer covering), three main body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) and three pairs of jointed legs (all attached to the thorax. Butterflies belong to the order of insects called Lepidoptera, which means "scaly wings".
  • What are the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle?
    There are four stages to a butterfly's life, and each stage is radically different from the others. Briefly, a butterfly starts as an egg. After about 5 to 10 days the egg hatches and a tiny caterpillar (larvae) emerges. The caterpillar starts to eat and will shed it's skin 4 to 6 times as it gets bigger and bigger. After about 2 to 4 weeks the caterpillar will be full grown and transforms itself into a chrysalis/pupa. What happens next is most amazing as inside the pupal case the caterpillars body breaks down into a kind of soup from which grows the adult structure of the butterfly! This stage can take between 10 to 15 days. Finally, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. Adult butterflies will mate, the female will lay eggs and the life cycle starts over. The whole process is called metamorphosis, which means "change of form".
  • How long do butterflies live?
    The average life of a butterfly is around two weeks. Some species only live a day or two and other species are capable of living around nine months.
  • How can I tell a butterfly from a moth?
    Butterflies and moths are related in many ways. Butterflies are generally brightly-colored while moths are generally drab, though they are many dramatic exceptions to this. Almost all butterflies are active during the day, and most (but not all) moths are active at night. The easiest way to tell the difference is by their antennae. Butterfly antennae are shaped somewhat like a golf club, with a long shaft. Most moths have either simple filaments tapering to a point, or complicated affairs with many cross-filaments.
  • How can I start my own butterfly garden?
    We have all the information you need to start your own butterfly garden, visit our Gardening Guide.
  • Where do butterflies go at night?
    At night or during bad weather, butterflies will usually hang from the undersides of leaves, or crawl into crevices between rocks or other objects, and sleep.
  • What do caterpillars eat?
    Almost all caterpillars eat plant materials. Most eat leaves, but some eat seeds, seed pods, or flowers. The caterpillar of the Harvester butterfly eats aphids.
  • What are the largest and smallest butterflies?
    Queen Alexandra's Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae), with a wing span of 11-1/8 inches (280 mm). The smallest butterfly, is the Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis), it is found in the southern United States. Its wingspan is ½ inch (15 mm).
  • What are the world’s rarest and most common butterflies?
    The rarest (and biggest) butterfly is the beautiful Queen Alexandra's Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae). It is found only in the rain forest of New Guinea, but destruction of its habitat is threatening this beautiful creature with extinction.
    The most common butterfly is the Cabbage White.

Random visitors photos:

You can send us your photos at photos@thebutterflyfarm.com, for more visit our photo galleries.

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