Butterfly Species Around the World

Butterflies are some of the most fragile pretty insects out there and their species differ all across the world.


Eran Bagwell, Contributor

If you’ve ever been outside in the spring or summer times, you have most likely had a run in with this beautiful insect: butterflies. Butterflies have wings that cover all different wing spans and carry different patterns and colors. 

In the US alone, there are about 750 species. “There are approximately 750 species of butterflies in the United States. As a comparison, there are some 17,500 species known in the world.” (si.edu) The most popular butterfly species in the US are believed to be the monarch, as it is the most easily spotted, but “The Monarch may be the most recognized butterfly in North America, but the Painted Lady covers more area geographically.” (gardening-for-wildlife.com) Painted lady’s are orange, black, and white just like a monarch but are more orange heavy with black spanning across the top.

Butterflies have pretty simple diets as well: “In most cases, adult butterflies are able to feed only on various liquids. They drink through a tube-like tongue called a proboscis. It uncoils to sip liquid food, and then coils up again into a spiral when the butterfly is not feeding. Most butterflies prefer flower nectar, but others may feed on the liquids found in rotting fruit, in ooze from trees, and in animal dung.” (uky.edu.com) This consistent diet allows butterflies to migrate and find a sustainable diet wherever they travel to.

The most popular butterfly in the world is the painted lady, but what is the rarest butterfly in the world?  Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing has proven itself to be the rarest and arguably the prettiest. “It happens to be the world’s largest butterfly, with a wingspan of up to 12 inches. Its wings are adorned in iridescent blue-green and yellow. And its caterpillars are equally impressive, with large black bodies broken by a yellow saddle and long red spikes.” (motherjones.com) This butterfly lives in the forests of Papua New Guinea and was originally discovered in 1906.

With the populations of butterflies being 17,500 plus, there are many things scientists are continuing to learn about them.