We love butterflies here at Back Home on the Farm. In addition to being absolutely beautiful and helping us with our gardening efforts, they have several other really cool characteristics.
Did you know that butterflies have transparent wings? They are covered in thousands of itty, bitty scales that reflect light in different colors. The butterfly’s actual wing is formed by layers of chitin, a protein that makes up an insect’s exoskeleton. The wings are so thin, you can see right through them. The colorful scales fall off as a butterfly ages, leaving transparent spots of the chitin layer.
Taste Buds in the Feet
Butterflies have taste receptors in their feed to help them find food. These receptors also help them select which plants to munch from. Female butterflies land on different plants and moves the leaves with her feet until the plant’s juices are released. Her legs have spines on them that help her detect plants that have the right kind of chemicals needed for her to lay her eggs.
Butterflies live in on an all-liquid diet, primarily nectar. They can’t chew solids, but their mouths are able to drink. A straw-like feature called a proboscis stays curled up under a butterfly’s chin until they find nectar and are ready to drink.
In addition to nectar, butterflies require minerals to live. More often than not, butterflies will drink from mud puddles to obtain these nutrients. This is more common in the male butterflies as they incorporate the minerals into their sperm which is transferred to the female during mating. These minerals help the female butterfly improve the viability of her eggs.
Can’t Fly in the Cold
Butterflies need to have a temperature of 85 degrees if they are going to fly. Butterflies are cold-blooded and can’t regulate their body temperatures. If the surrounding temperature falls below 55 degrees, butterflies can’t fly which makes them susceptible to predators.
Come see us here at the farm this Summer. We’ve got all kinds of fun attractions including our popular butterfly house!