- Many butterflies have taste receptors IN THEIR FEET which help them to find out whether the leaf they land on is a good place to lay their eggs and to be their caterpillars’ scrumptious food.
- On the flip side, a butterfly’s antennae are primarily used for smell. But they can also do weird things like detecting gravity and wind direction, and even be used to tell the time of day!
- Remember the Hungry Caterpillar? It’s not just fiction. Some caterpillars will eat their own body weight in leaves in just one day.
- It’s pretty important for caterpillars to gorge on leaves because some types of moths never eat anything as adults. Nada. No leaves, no nothing. Because they have no mouths! Instead, they’ve got to live on the energy they stored as caterpillars to see them through life. Sounds pretty miserable, right?!
Ever seen a pretty ‘Cabbage’ White butterfly? Well, it may be an imposter – a host for an evil parasite. One of the butterfly’s natural enemies is a parasitic wasp that is so tiny, it can stowaway undetected on the bodies of female Large Whites, and lay its own eggs inside those laid by the butterfly. The wasp grub develops inside the egg and prevents the emergence of a cabbage-munching caterpillar. Great for gardeners, not so great for the butterfly…
- They may seem like gentle, fluttering insects, but butterflies and moths can actually move pretty quickly. The top butterfly flight speed is 12mph, and some moths can fly 25mph.
Moths have a reputation for being nocturnal light-loving insects, but many of them only fly during the day, like the beautiful Six-spot Burnet and the Humming-bird-Hawk Moth, that has tricked many a human into thinking they’ve got a hummingbird among the flowers.
- Moths love beer. No, really! If you want to attract them, mix brown sugar, banana and a good gulp of beer into a paste and spread it on a surface, and check back in the dark with a torch to see what you attract!
When you think of moths, what do you think of? Dull, brown, obsessed with light? Well, I guess you haven’t met the Elephant Moth!
- Or a Large Emerald moth…
- Or any of the tiger family of moths. Though this one looks a bit more like a zebra…
Many moths have adopted different ways of surviving by blending in with their surroundings. The Oak Beauty look just like the bark of a tree, the Merveille du Jour blends into pale green lichen and moss, and the Buff-tip can beautifully disguise itself as a broken-off twig… Hey, where’d it go?
- The Hornet moth, on the other hand, is just a downright fraudster and looks just like – you guessed it – a hornet.
- … And finally, the Chinese Character moth evades predators by disguising itself as bird poop!
So now you know how cool they are, keep your eyes peeled for butterflies and moths in your garden or when you’re out walking. Butterfly Conservation needs your sightings to monitor changes to biodiversity and the climate, and these awesome insects are a key indicator of those changes! Share your sightings.