How long do butterflies live?
The average butterfly lives two to three weeks. Some butterflies live only a day or two and a few species live up to ten months.
How does the zoo train the caterpillar to spin their cocoons or chrysalis on the tree or in the emergence boxes?
We don’t! The zoo buys the cocoons or chrysalis and glues them on the tree and onto the sticks in the emergence boxes. New chrysalis and cocoons will be added weekly throughout the summer.
Where does the zoo buy the butterflies and moths?
We purchase our collection from butterfly farmers in Texas, Tennessee and Florida who raise them specifically for exhibit purposes.
Why don’t the butterflies or moths fly right after emerging?
After the butterfly or moth emerges from its chrysalis/cocoon the abdomen is very fat. The butterfly or moth pumps fluid from the abdomen to the wings. The fluid fills the veins and the wings are shaped. It takes an hour for the wings to take shape. The wings then need to dry for about 2 hours before the butterfly can fly. If the wings do not expand properly or are injured when drying the butterfly will not fly!
What happens to butterflies and moths in the winter?
Butterflies can survive over winter in the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult stage. In Minnesota the butterfly flies away, die, or hibernate. For example the mourning cloak and the red admiral butterflies hibernate as an adult allowing them to mate very early in the spring.
Why doesn’t the Zoo release their butterflies?
There is a potential threat of spreading disease to the wild populations of butterflies. Parasites are present in the natural population, which are not a problem until there is captive breeding at high densities. When the apparently healthy butterflies are released, they can act as carriers and spread disease. The parasite may not show up for several generations, so diseased butterflies may be released before the discovery of a harmful parasite. “Farmed” butterflies from other states are also genetically different from our native wild butterflies. Releasing farmed-raised butterflies could therefore change, or “muddy” the genetics of our local population, which would not be beneficial.
What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?
Look at the antennae. Butterflies have skinny antenna with knobs at the end. Moths have feathery antennae or skinny ones without knobs. Butterflies usually fly in the daytime and moths fly at night. Butterflies have long slender body and moths have fat, often fuzzy bodies.
Do butterflies see color?
Yes, and so much more. Butterflies not only see the colors we do they also see ultraviolet colors. Ultraviolet colors are often the difference between male and female. Males have more ultraviolet reflectance on their scales. The ultraviolet colors of flowers help to attract butterflies.
Does Minnesota have a state butterfly?
Yes, the Monarch is Minnesota’s state butterfly.
Does the monarch butterfly really fly to Mexico and back to Minnesota?
Yes and no, the Monarch flying in your garden does make it to Mexico, but this individual butterfly does not return from Mexico to Minnesota. In July, the monarch begins the 3,000 to 4,000 miles trip to warmer weather. They have been known to fly 100 miles a day and reach speeds up to 30 m.p.h. The average flight speed is 10 m.p.h. In February the monarch begins the trip north. The females stop to lay eggs on milkweed plants along the way and then die. This first generation lives 6 to 9 months. The second and third generations live 6 weeks and the fourth generation returns to Minnesota. They produce the 5th generation, which makes the trip to Mexico.
What is the life cycle of the Monarch?
The monarch butterfly egg hatches in 4 to 5 days. The baby caterpillar is about the size of a grain of rice. The caterpillar eats and eats for 2 weeks. In 2 weeks it is 2700 times its original size. Week 3 the caterpillar spins a silk pad on a leaf or branch, it attaches itself to the pad and hangs upside down. The caterpillar’s striped skin will change gradually into the emerald green chrysalis. In 9 to 10 days the green colored chrysalis fades, leaving a see-through chrysalis. In about 2 weeks after the chrysalis is formed the butterfly splits it open and climbs out.
What is the smallest and largest butterfly?
The smallest butterfly is the western pygmy blue. With its wings open, it would take 3 Western Pygmy Blues to cover a dime! The largest butterfly is the Queen Alexandra Birdwing, with a wing span of 11 inches.
Are butterflies endangered?
Some butterflies are endangered, some are already extinct due to the loss of natural habitat. How can we help? Put plants in your garden that caterpillar can munch on and butterflies can drink from. Encourage your city not to cut down milkweed or other native plants along highways and in park areas. Take a picture of a butterfly rather than capturing it.