Butterfly Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Butterfly Definition

A butterfly is a type of insect belonging to the order Lepidoptera, which includes moths as well. Butterflies are known for their beautiful and colorful wings, which are covered with scales. These scales give their wings a powdery appearance and are responsible for the vivid patterns and colors that vary between species.

Butterfly General Characteristics & Facts


Butterflies have two pairs of large, delicate wings covered in tiny scales, which give them their characteristic colors and patterns. These wings are used for flight and are essential for their survival.


These antennae are used for sensing their environment, detecting pheromones, and locating suitable food sources.

Life Cycle

Butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis, with four distinct stages in their life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult butterfly. This transformation allows them to occupy different ecological niches during each stage.


Adult butterflies have a proboscis, a tubular mouthpart that they use to feed on nectar from flowers. Some species also feed on rotting fruit, tree sap, and other liquid substances.


Butterflies are known for their graceful and agile flight. They can fly in various directions, including backward and sideways, making them skilled at evading predators.


The color patterns on butterfly wings serve several functions, including mate attraction, camouflage, and warning signs to predators (aposematism) in some toxic species.

Read our Animals Encyclopedia with Complete Facts

Physical Characteristics Butterfly

  1. Wings: Butterflies have two pairs of wings, making a total of four wings. The wings are large and thin, covered in tiny scales that give them their characteristic colors and patterns. The wings are attached to the thorax of the butterfly and are essential for its flight.
  2. Body: A butterfly’s body is divided into three main parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head houses the antennae, compound eyes, and mouthparts. The thorax is the middle section and contains the muscles that power the wings and legs. The abdomen is the long, segmented rear part of the body, which contains the digestive and reproductive organs.
  3. Proboscis: The proboscis is a long, tubular mouthpart that butterflies use for feeding. It acts like a straw, allowing the butterfly to sip nectar from flowers.
  4. Legs: Butterflies have six legs attached to their thorax. These legs are relatively small compared to their wings and are used for walking and gripping surfaces.
  5. Eyes: Butterflies have compound eyes, which consist of thousands of individual visual units called ommatidia. This compound eye structure allows them to have a wide field of vision and excellent sensitivity to movement.
  6. Coloration and Patterns: Butterflies display a wide range of colors and patterns on their wings, which vary greatly among species. The colors are produced by pigments in the wing scales, and the patterns serve various functions, including attracting mates, camouflaging from predators, and warning potential threats of their toxicity.
  7. Size: Butterflies come in various sizes, with wingspans ranging from a few centimeters to over 30 centimeters (12 inches) in some tropical species.
  8. Scales: The wings and body of a butterfly are covered with tiny, overlapping scales. These scales can easily rub off when the butterfly is touched, which is why handling butterflies is generally discouraged.
  9. Sexual Dimorphism: In some butterfly species, there is sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females have different physical characteristics or coloration. This difference can be subtle or quite distinct, depending on the species.

Continue To Explore All Animals That Start With B

Scientific Classification of Butterfly

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Key Locations of Butterfly

  • Rainforests
  • Grasslands
  • Meadows
  • Woodlands
  • Gardens
  • Coastal areas
  • Mountains
  • Deserts
  • Wetlands
  • Savannas
  • Tundra regions
  • Farmlands
  • Parks and nature reserves
  • Riverbanks
  • Urban areas with green spaces

View All A-Z Animals List

Butterfly FAQs

What does Butterfly eat?

  • Nectar from flowers
  • Fruit juices
  • Sap from trees
  • Rotting fruits
  • Pollen
  • Animal dung
  • Carrion (decaying animal flesh)
  • Plant juices
  • Mineral-rich water
  • Algae and fungi
Rate this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *