What Does a Butterfly Eat?

As you know, a butterfly goes through a life cycle. First it is an egg, then it becomes a caterpillar, then a pupa (during which it sleeps through the winter), and finally it emerges as a butterfly.

There is one period during that the life cycle when this creature does most of its eating, and that is when it is a caterpillar. In some kinds of butterflies, the only time in its life when it will ever eat anything is during that caterpillar stage.

It feeds and grows until it bursts its skin and sheds it for a new one. It may repeat this process many times, and in a few weeks it can be many, many times as large as when it hatched. But butterflies are equipped to eat.


A butterfly has a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. Those butterflies which do eat have a tube instead of the usual insect mouth. This tube, when not in use, is coiled up like a watch spring. It can be thrust deep into the hearts of flowers to suck up their nectar.

In moths, which belong to the same insect order as butterflies, this tube can be 15 to 30 centimeters long, so it can reach into large, tubular flowers some moths have sawlike teeth at the tip of the tube with which they can cut through the skins of fruit in order to drink their juices!

Did you know that the antennae of moths and butterflies are really more than just feelers? They use these antennae not only to feel but also to smell and perhaps hear.

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