|Great Eggfly Butterfly – Hypolimnas bolina|
Captive live butterfly photographed at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
Butterfly Main | Skippers | Butterfly Index
Please excuse the out-of-range white balance of this photograph. The butterfly pictured here is a captive. Live butterfly exhibits have become very popular in the United States, for obvious reasons. Children love butterflies, adults love butterflies and museums find them easy to raise and maintain – everybody wins.
This relatively recent happy circumstance is also good for wild butterfly populations – people who used to go into the rain forest and capture live butterflies, or plunder their eggs and chrysalises now can be set to work on butterfly farms, thereby sparing wild populations, and providing much needed jobs for many impoverished regions. Butterfly habitat worldwide is being destroyed at a rate unprecedented until modern times. Slash-and-burn agriculture in South America and other tropical areas continue to shrink the available acreage for the caterpillar's host plant. The continued expansion of urban sprawl in Earth's cities eat away at the butterfly's ecosystem.
Family Nymphalidae – Brushfoots or brush-footed butterflies encompass approximately 3,000 species worldwide, of which 160 or so live in or visit North America. This is a very diverse family of butterflies, and they occur everywhere except the polar ice caps. Their unifying characteristic is the reduced forelegs of both males and females. The habit of holding the forelegs close to the body is shared with many other insects, including bumblebees, flies, bugs and beetles.
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Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.