Butterflies

Costa Rica has a great diversity of butterflies. Of the 20,000 butterfly species worldwide, approximately 1,000 can be found in Costa Rica!


photo M. Noonan

These insects have compound eyes made of thousands of segments that allow them to look in all directions at once! They also have fragile wings that can be worn or damaged by predators. Despite the loss of wing mass, the insect can continue to fly and navigate with the help of the balancing abilities of the antennae. Butterflies do not have teeth, instead they use a tube-like structure, called a proboscis, to feed on nectar, mud, and sap.


photo M. Noonan


photo M. Noonan

The female butterfly lays up to 100 eggs in her lifetime on plants. These eggs develop into a larvae stage (caterpillar stage) and later into a pupa stage. Finally, different parts of the body transform into butterfly anatomy.


photo M. Noonan

Butterflies have various body defense mechanisms to survive in the tropics. Brightly colored butterflies are commonly “bad tasting” to predators and contain toxins. Body coloration and patterns may also be used to distract predators or to blend in with the environment.

In Costa Rica, one commonly sees species including the Blue Morpho and other colorful butterflies.

 

 

CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.