Let’s look at some butterfly pictures from around the world!
Did you know that butterflies live on every continent except Antarctica? There may be as many as 15,000 different species of butterflies!
Enjoy these beautiful butterfly pictures, and then be sure to download our free butterfly coloring pages! We also have a fun world map activity, where children can place each butterfly on its correct continent.
Keep reading to discover more about two butterflies from different continents.
Monarch: A butterfly with a super migration
Probably the most famous butterfly in North America is the monarch butterfly. This beautiful black and orange butterfly starts life as a tiny egg on a milkweed plant, the only plant a monarch caterpillar eats.
Once it hatches, the tiny caterpillar eats (and grows) for two straight weeks. Then it transforms into a bright green chrysalis with beautiful golden dots on it. It stays in the chrysalis for two more weeks before emerging as a butterfly.
Every fall monarchs leave their summer homes in Canada and the northern US to winter in southwest Mexico. Some of them flying as far as 3,000 miles!
Black swallowtail: Don’t make this one scared
When a black swallowtail caterpillar becomes frightened, it displays a scent gland that looks like a pair of horns. This gland releases a bad smell to drive away predators.
These caterpillars are sometimes called parsley caterpillars because they like to eat parsley. Black swallowtails also eat other plants from the same family, such as carrots or dill.
Glasswing: A butterfly with see-through wings
Glasswing butterflies live only in tropical rainforests. Their partially clear wings make them difficult to see in the dense jungle growth.
Spanish speakers call them espejitos, or “little mirrors” because of their transparent wings. These butterflies may look fragile, but they can carry up to forty times their own body weight!
Blue morpho: A giant blue butterfly that isn’t really blue
Blue morpho butterflies stand out for their amazing size and unusual color. They are one of the largest butterflies in the world—as big as eight inches across.
Their wings actually aren’t colored blue! Instead, scales on the tops of their wings reflect blue light so they only look blue.
Apollo: First endangered butterfly of Europe
The Apollo butterfly needs a particular habitat: sunny alpine meadows and rocky mountain slopes that contain the right types of plants for it to thrive. It was the first butterfly to be listed as endangered in Europe.
The bright red spots on the Apollo butterfly’s wings fade to orange as it ages. The bright spots look like eyes to scare predators, but Apollo butterflies are not poisonous.
Camberwell: A butterfly that can play tricks
The Camberwell beauty butterfly is a common species in Europe. It can live as long as a year, making it one of the longest-living butterflies in the world!
The most amazing thing about the Camberwell beauty is its reaction to predators. When it senses a threat, this butterfly plays dead! It tucks in its legs and lies perfectly still until it is safe.
Rajah Brooke: The national butterfly of Malaysia
The Rajah Brooke’s birdwing butterfly lives in the tropical rainforests of Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra. It lays red eggs and is a strong flier that can cross an entire river with just three to four beats of its wings.
Female butterflies are rarely seen. They are not as colorful as the males and spend most of their time high in the tree canopy.
Queen Alexandra: A butterfly with a world record
The largest butterfly in the world lives in Asia. It’s called the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, and it can grow to be 11 inches across!
As one of the rarest butterflies on Earth, it lives only in Papua New Guinea, a small island country north of Australia.
African swallowtail: A very dangerous butterfly
What’s most unusual about the giant African swallowtail butterfly isn’t its large size—it’s the most poisonous butterfly in the world!
The poison is strong enough to kill a hippopotamus! In Somalia, tribal hunters used this substance to poison hunting arrows. When this beautiful butterfly feels threatened, it lets out a terrible-smelling spray.
Gold-banded forester: A butterfly with a long life
Unlike most butterflies that rest with their wings folded back, the South African gold-banded forester butterfly rests with its wings open.
It lives in dense tropical forests and feeds on rotting fruit and tree sap. Scientists believe this diet may contribute to the butterfly’s long life: while many butterflies live only a few weeks, the gold-banded forester can live for seven months!
Cairns birdwing: Largest butterfly in Australia
The Cairns birdwing male butterfly is very colorful with splashes of green on its wings. The female, while less colorful, is larger than the male.
This colorful butterfly is the largest in Australia. It often lays its eggs on a plant poisonous to caterpillars: Dutchman’s pipe. However, that habit hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most common on the island continent.
Arid bronze azure: A butterfly that lives with ants
The arid bronze azure butterfly is a very rare butterfly from Australia with an unusual way of taking care of its caterpillars.
First, the butterfly lays its eggs outside the nest of a colony of sugar ants. Then the ants take the eggs inside their nest and care for the growing caterpillars, which protects them. When the caterpillars grow large enough, they actually eat the ants!
Now that you’ve learned about butterflies all over the world, have fun finding them where you live! Maybe you’ll see a new species you’ve never noticed before. Have you enjoyed these beautiful butterfly pictures?
Don’t forget to download our free butterfly coloring pages and map activity, where you can cut out beautiful butterfly pictures and then paste them on the correct continent!
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