How long do butterflies live?

The charm of these beautiful insects, which, unlike the others, is often admired for their flight and colors, perhaps also depends on the transience of their life. From the time of school, they will have explained the process of transforming a butterfly from the state of a caterpillar, but they have not told us how long their life lasts on average. And it is also customary to want to understand how long a butterfly lives and if its life depends on a series of factors or is an entirely natural duration. There will be no shortage of commonplaces to dispel and all the curiosities about this fascinating insect. In this article, we read about How long do butterflies live?

The life cycle of a butterfly: what to know

Before understanding how long a butterfly’s life lasts, let’s see what the phases are that characterize it, from the larval state to the final one that we see when we raise our eyes in the air. These are insects from the Lepidoptera family that, unlike moths, live by day and have much more flashy and evident colors. The life cycle is structured in four phases, which we will analyze individually: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult.

  • Egg: the caterpillar cuts out the top of this ‘container’ and pushes it outwards. Once out of the egg, the caterpillar eats it to obtain the nourishment necessary for its survival, at least until it finds the host plant and of which it will become a part.
  • Caterpillar: this stage of a butterfly’s life depends on a series of factors, first of all, the species it belongs to, and on nutrition, atmospheric and environmental conditions. At this stage, it will attach itself to the host plant with its tail, weaving a thin silk pad on its stem. The metamorphosis process can take anywhere from a month to three years!
  • Pupa or chrysalis: in this hardened silk envelope, the caterpillar evolves into the pupa stage, the chrysalis. This stage of a butterfly’s life also depends on some external factors.
  • Butterfly: the final stage, the adult one, begins when the pupa emerges from the previously described envelope. Initially, its wings will have to expand and then start to fly. And it is as an adult. The butterfly will feed on the nectar of the flowers on which it will rest.

How long does a butterfly live: the longest-lived

Even among the butterflies, some live the most, and those succumb for various reasons. Most diurnal ones live from two days to two weeks and belong to the Licenidius, Sphingids, Nymphalids, Noctuids, and Papilionids.

Longer-lived butterflies, such as Caligo, Heliconinae, and Morpho, increase their chances of survival by feeding them. In fact, unlike the others, they get used to eating the nectar and the pollen of the flowers; in this way, they also feed on amino acids and proteins.

The males of the species are less long-lived than the females, probably because they are more exposed to dangers. They are the ones who defend the other specimens from threats, dispersing energy and going in search of females for mating. As energy is depleted, their life cycle shortens.

How long does a butterfly live: commonplaces and conclusions

A butterfly’s life is said to last only one day, but that is not true. They do not live long but not so little either! It all depends on factors such as climatic, environmental, food conditions, and exposure to hazards. The average life span is about a month, although some do not exceed two days. We are talking about the butterflies that live in Costa Rica. At the opposite extreme, there is Vanessa Antiopa, who lives up to a year.

So basically, it is not possible to give a single answer to how long a butterfly lives. The average is from one to three months, but the individual situation must be analyzed. Finally, the Monarch butterfly stands out from the others. Which lives between the USA and Mexico and makes long migrations and can live from two weeks to 8 months.

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