Flitting from flower to flower in the sunshine, butterflies are enchanting to watch. As they rise into the warm air the brilliant colors of their wings lend joy to a summer's day. These delicate wings are covered with tiny scales which reflect light passing through them to form bright colors and patterns. They serve to identify the butterfly to members of its own species as it seeks to carry out its sole mission in life, mating. The colors of some species, such as the Monarch, which are toxic when eaten, warn predators that these butterflies are not dinner.
The male butterfly spends his short time on earth cruising around looking
for a female. With his antennae he can smell her perfume (pheromones)
from over a mile away. At the back of his abdomen—remember, butterflies
are insects so their bodies have three sections, a head, a thorax, and
an abdomen—is a set of “claspers” to grab on to his
lady love. When couples mate they face in opposite directions with their
abdomens locked together. The female, if startled during the conjugal
act, will fly up into the air carrying aloft her attached Don Juan. During
her short lifetime she will lay about 100 eggs. Some species lay their
eggs in clusters while others lay each egg on a different plant.
Upon hatching, the tiny caterpillars go into the world to eat. As adult
butterflies are primarily sex machines caterpillars are primarily eating
machines, munching the night away, and remaining motionless during daylight
hours to camouflage themselves from predators. The growing caterpillar
sheds its skin four times, then searches for the perfect spot on the
underside of a leaf to attach itself and prepare for the miraculous change
from a crawling eating machine to a glorious flying butterfly.
The butterfly's life is short, varying from species to species, but averaging
about three months—two weeks as an adult butterfly.
One of the best places to watch butterflies is Costa Rica, which boasts
over 1000 butterfly species, more than the entire continent of Africa.
Click Here for information on our Costa Rica Tours.