Can you spot any butterflies or moths in your garden? Butterflies are one of the most graceful insects. Their thin delicate wings are covered with tiny scales which give them their beautiful colours.
Butterflies undergo a process called metamorphosis. In this biological process, eggs develop into caterpillars. Next, caterpillars transform into a chrysalis (pupa) before the final stage of growth which is when the pupa turns into a brightly coloured butterfly.
Butterflies survive on various food, ranging from nectar from flowers to pollen, tree sap and rotting fruit. These beautiful insects rely on their antennae to pick up scents. While they mainly use their antennae to smell, some species “smell” through their feet, too!
The largest known butterfly in the world is the Queen Alexandra with a wingspan of over 28cm. These insects are strong fliers and they fly high up in forests.
Locally, there are over 1,180 known butterfly species, ranging from Common Mime to Red Helen and Raja Brooke’s Birdwing.
Here’s what Starchild readers had to say on the topic, Butterflies.
Nine-year-old Caitlyn Miriam Louis says butterflies are one of God’s wonderful creations that she loves.
“Butterflies make the world a more colourful and brighter place with their unique and beautiful wings. I love butterflies because of their amazing and glorious transformation. One year ago, I adopted a butterfly from a butterfly farm. It was exciting to see my cocoon turn into a lovely butterfly. I had lots of fun observing it. Butterflies are amazing insects that I certainly adore and am fascinated with.”
Nine-year-old Katrina Kaavya Kalai Devan says butterflies remind us to never be afraid of spreading our wings (having dreams) and flying as high as we can (achieving those dreams and not limiting ourselves).
“The beautiful colours of the butterflies’ wings are attractive. In my drawing the colour pink represents softness while purple is associated with wealth. The white dots symbolise purity and the colour black represents the symbol of strength and power.”
Eleven-year-old Ramona Grace Fernandez likes monarch butterflies because they are colorful and pretty.
“The monarch’s bright colours warn predators that they are dangerous to eat. The monarch can lay 400 eggs. Monarchs feed on poisonous milkweed leaves. The caterpillar eats its own egg case and sheds its skin. Monarchs migrate and the eggs take 14 days to hatch.”
Eight-year-old Jayden Tan Li Sheng likes the monarch butterfly too.
“It has bright orange wings laced with black lines and bordered with white dots. Its bright coloured wings help to scare away predators. But, an interesting fact is that it absorbs and stores poison in its body when it eats the poisonous milkweed leaves.”
Older sibling Jodie Tan Li Juen, 12, feels happy whenever she sees butterflies flying in her garden.
“I like to observe them when they fly from flower to flower sipping nectar, which is their food. They are important pollinators. They help flowers and trees grow, which help give us oxygen. More than beautiful, they contribute to the health of the Earth. Therefore, we should care about them because they are a part of nature.”
“I like butterflies because they are beautiful and not scary. I think butterflies are prettiest in bright rainbow colours. Unlike garden pests, butterflies are welcomed in my garden – they are good pollinators and beneficial for my plants,” says Bethany Wang Qi Syuen, six.
“I love butterflies in all colours and designs. They are one of my favourite insects. I wonder if there’s a butterfly that resembles my rainbow dress. I enjoy looking at butterflies in the garden,” says Chloe Leong Xizhen, eight.
Six-year-old Denise Goh Xi Wen, six, wishes she could fly as gracefully with butterflies.
“My favourite butterfly’s wings are blue and pink in colour. These are my favourite colours. It has a pair of long antennas. My butterfly is very friendly as it is always smiling at other butterflies.”
Older sibling Darren Goh Jia Hao, nine, writes: “My favourite butterfly has special wings as its forewings and hindwings come in different sizes and colours. It has a curly pair of antennas and a fat abdomen. My butterfly loves beautiful flowers.”
“My peacock butterfly. The wings have special circles that look like the peacock’s shimmery tail feathers. Like all butterflies, it likes to fly from flower to flower to eat the nectar. This causes the garden to be full of bright colours and sweet-smelling scent,” says Sophie Yap Jyn Qing, eight.
Younger sibling Claire Yap Jyn Wei, six, writes: “My butterfly’s wings are blue and purple. There are four butterflies sitting on the flowers in my garden. They look beautiful.”
“Butterflies are cool because they can transform from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. I like butterflies because they have colourful wings and they can fly freely,” writes Sanddya Tham Min Huey, seven.
“I like butterflies. Their wings are very colourful and lovely. They look like a rainbow flying up and down, when they move their wings,” says Lim Jo Ern, seven.
Debria Preethi Jeyarajah, 10, says ;“The most famous butterfly in Malaysia is Rajah Brooke’s birdwing. It is our country’s national butterfly. If I could design a butterfly, it would be red and orange that represent the colours of fire.”
“Some butterflies protect themselves through camouflage. Its colourful wings help them to blend in with their surroundings,” writes Mandy Tang, four.
“It makes me happy to see butterflies as one happy family flying together in my garden, writes five-year-old Kate Ang YuXuan.
“Butterflies come in various shades. Some butterflies have colourful wings while others are dull,” writes Wong Zhi Ying, seven. - Compiled by Sheela Chandran