8 Interesting Facts about Butterflies
Seeing butterflies fluttering round your garden is one of the first welcome signs that spring has sprung. Here are 8 interesting facts about these beautiful creatures:
#1 There are around 24,000 different species of butterfly around the world. The only continent without butterflies is Antarctica. In the UK, we have around 56 native species of butterfly.
#2 Each butterfly species chooses a select few plants on which to lay their eggs. Every species has their own preference. They find suitable plants through a combination of sight, smell and taste.
#3 Butterflies suck up nectar through their proboscis. And they taste with sensors on their feet rather than through their mouths. Nectar is their favourite food but butterflies have also been known to eat tree sap, dung, pollen and rotting fruit.
#4 Different butterfly species have different lifespans. The common blue might only spend a few days as an adult butterfly. In contrast, the peacock butterfly emerges from its cocoon in August, hibernates over winter and can still be seen in June the following year.
#5 The number of butterfly species in the UK is boosted in the summer. Around a dozen different species migrate to the UK from across the world. One of the most famous varieties is the painted lady, which travels all the way from North Africa to Europe.
#6 Many butterflies are endangered. Over the last 150 years, five species have become extinct in Britain. They are the large copper, mazarine blue, black-veined white, large blue and large tortoiseshell. However, there are hopes that the black-veined white may be able to return to the UK due to rising average temperatures.
#7 Butterflies are cold blooded. But they need to raise their body to temperature to 27⁰c in order to take flight. They do this by basking in the sun and vibrating their flight muscles. Because they can’t cope with the UK’s low winter temperatures, most butterflies enter a dormant phase as either an egg, larva or pupa. Some also hibernate.
#8 Peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, comma and brimstone butterflies spend the winter as adults. They try to find an outbuilding, a log pile or vegetation in which to hibernate. However, this hibernation isn’t total. If the winter sun is warm enough, these butterflies can wake up which is why they can be spotted all year round. If woken, they’ll find food and then resume their hibernation.
If you’d like to see more butterflies in your garden, try planting nectar-rich plants and flowers. You could also make them feel more at home by installing a butterfly box. Boxwild sells the perfect gift for a Butterfly Lover!
- Nikki Boxwild