Q:

How many species of butterflies are known to exist?

A:

Quick Answer

There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies existing in the world today. Since 1968, the number of new species of butterflies has increased dramatically.

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Full Answer

Now that many more areas of the rainforest are accessible to scientists, it makes identifying new species of butterflies much easier. It is likely there are many species that have not yet been discovered and may never be discovered because they are so elusive, live such short lives and will become extinct before they can be found.

The most widely seen butterfly in the world is the Painted Lady butterfly. This species is found in North America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, Africa, Madagascar, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia.

The latest species of butterfly to be discovered is the Intricate Satyr butterfly that lives in East Texas, Florida and South Carolina.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What do butterflies eat?

    A:

    Most fully grown butterflies extract and eat nectar from flowers by using their tongue as a straw, while a smaller minority of butterflies consume tree sap, organic material and rotting animal matter. Some butterfly caterpillars eat leaves, while others feed on seed pods, seeds and flowers.

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  • Q:

    What is the niche of butterflies?

    A:

    Different butterfly species occupy slightly different niches, but most are forest- or field-dwelling, flying, nectar-feeding insects. Butterflies have long, extensible tongues that they insert into flowers to suck out the nectar. During feeding, butterflies are often covered in pollen, making them effective agents of pollination for plants. Butterflies are eaten by a variety of predators, including birds and reptiles.

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  • Q:

    How do butterflies eat?

    A:

    Butterflies eat by sipping nectar and other liquids through their proboscis, a tubular appendage that functions like a straw. The larvae of butterflies, called caterpillars, feed voraciously on plant material, especially leaves.

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  • Q:

    How long do butterflies live?

    A:

    On average, a butterfly lives about a month. However, the time can vary greatly between species, and females tend to live longer than males. It's extremely unusual for a butterfly of any species to live longer than a year.

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