Getting butterflies

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Tuesday, 10 October 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • The biggest butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandria's Birdwing. It lives in Papua New Guinea and has a wingspan greater than 28 centimetres.
  • The world's smallest butterfly is the Pygmy Blue. Its wingspan ranges between 10 mm to 12 mm in length.
  • The caterpillar of the monarch butterfly will eventually multiply its original weight by 2,700 times. If a 3.2 kilo newborn human gained weight at the same rate, as an adult, it would weigh well over 9 tonnes.
  • The hairstreak butterfly of South America has a fake head, complete with antennae, on its back wings. The theory is that birds will attack the fake head and leave the real head alone.
  • Adult goatweed butteflies play dead when handled.
  • The monarch butterfly can discern tastes 12,000 times more subtle than those perceivable by human taste buds.
  • Monarch butterflies go through a complete metamorphosis in three to six weeks.
  • Monarch butterflies can live for eight months, but the average butterfly life span in North America is two to three weeks.
  • During her lifespan, a female monarch butterfly may lay hundreds of eggs.
  • Monarch butterflies do not fly well in temperatures under 12 ºC. It is common for them to spread their wings to soak up the sun's rays, and when the right temperature is reached, to take flight.
  • North American monarch butterflies winter in Mexico where they live in communal roosts. Monarchs can fly 1,900 kilometres in three weeks.
  • When monarch butterflies migrate, they can reach altitudes of 10,000 feet.
  • The Brimstone butterfly has the longest lifetime of the adult butterflies at nine to 10 months.
  • The chrysalises (pupae) of some gossamer-winged butterflies are capable of producing weak sounds as to scare off potential enemies. They do this by flexing and rubbing together body segment membranes.
  • The vampire moth of Asia has a stiff proboscis that enables it to suck juices from thick-skinned fruits. It is also occasionally seen sucking the blood from a water buffalo or deer.
  • The yucca plant and the yucca moth are totally dependent upon one another for their existence. The moth pollinates the plant and at the same time lays an egg in the flower. The moth larva then eats some of the developing seeds.
  • Australia is home to 350 different kinds of butterflies.
  • At one time in Scotland, witches were suspected of assuming the form of red butterflies.

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