Sources for the word "butterfly"

  • English: Possibly from the genus Colias which are commonly called sulphurs. It is thought that the bright yellow of many Colias species may have reminded someone of ‘butter flying’ by.
  • Spanish word for butterfly is mariposa.
  • French word for butterfly is papillon.
  • German word for butterfly is schmetterling.
  • Swahili word for butterfly is kipepeo.

Interesting Facts

  • Butterflies are important as pollinators and as a food source for other animals such as birds, lizards, frogs, ants, paper wasps, mantises, and parasitic flies.
  • There are approximately 20,000 species of described butterflies worldwide.
  • Butterflies range from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost land extensions in the Southern Hemisphere in habitats as diverse as tundra, desert, grasslands, and all types of forests.
  • Butterfly color comes from minute scales that cover both sides of the wings and their bodies.
  • Butterflies are restricted to a liquid diet and some species do not feed at all.


  • Largest Species: Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) from Papua New Guinea. Females can have up to 31 cm (>12 inches) wingspan.
  • Smallest Species: Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis) with a wingspan of 12-19mm (0.5-0.75 inches).

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