Arguably the most beloved bug on the planet, the butterfly has captivated children and inspired artists and writers since the beginning of time. With their beautiful colours, intricate pattens and delightful, fluttering flight they inspire happiness and delight. In art and literature they are often seen as symbols of freedom, transformation, new life and hope.
But there’s more to these ‘flying flowers' than just good looks! We’ve rummaged through the far corners of the internet to collect these cool butterfly facts.
Butterflies taste with their feet.
- You can find butterflies on every continent in the world, except Antarctica.
- The biggest butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing from Papua New Guinea, with a wingspan of 30cm. The smallest is the Western Pygmy Blue, with a wingspan of just 1.3cm.
- The collective noun for butterflies is kaleidoscope.
- No one really knows why butterflies are called butterflies. Some stories suggest it's because in the Middle Ages people believed they stole milk and butter. Others suggest it’s because they have yellow poo. Most likely they are named after the creamy yellow colour of the sulphur butterflies, common throughout Europe.
- Butterflies can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 28⁰C.
- The first person to conclusively link caterpillars to butterflies by describing and illustrating their life-cycle was German naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian (born in 1647). Yep, she was a woman and a mum.
- There are about 400 recorded butterfly species in Australia.
- All butterflies have four wings, not two.
- Inspired by nano structures on transparent butterfly wings, scientists have developed eye implants for people suffering from the eye disease glaucoma.