The other day I was excited by tweets coming from @Grade1’s classroom.  These tweets were questions and cool facts about butterflies.  It seems that the students in Ms Dunsiger’s grade 1 and 2 class have been bit by the spring bug and are planting a Butterfly garden (watch the edmodo of the students in her class blog post!) and research lifecycles, anatomy and behaviours of catepillars and butterflies.  They also posted a series of questions which I felt the need to help them answer – I love butterflies and my children love to chase after them and watch them go about their business.

Student Butterfly Questions and Answers

Why are bugs cool?

I’d say they are cool because they are so much different than we are.  They act differently and tend to have several different stages (where they can look completely different from stage to stage) – where a baby human looks similar to an adult human!  Also I think they have the ability to be small and still ‘bug’ us as they can bite and sting us and we will feel it for days!

Do you look on Google to get a lot of information of the Butterfly and the bugs?

Yes I do!  I also look in books and talk to experts to get my information.

Are some butterflies evil? (This is my FAVOURITE question!!)

If by ‘Evil’ you mean are they poisonous then the answer is YES!!
Some butterflies such as the Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail eat poisonous plants as caterpillars and are poisonous themselves as adult butterflies. Birds learn not to eat them. Other good-tasting butterflies (called “mimics”) come to resemble them and thus benefit from this “umbrella” of protection.  See example pictures of then at

If by ‘Evil’ you mean they can kill animals then the answer is YES!!
No butterflies are so poisonous that they kill people or large animals, but there is an African moth whose caterpillar’s fluids are very poisonous. The N’gwa or ‘Kaa caterpillar’s entrails have been used by Bushmen to poison the tips of arrows. When shot by one of these arrows an antelope can be killed in short order. Other butterflies, whose caterpillars eat poisonous plants such as milkweeds, pipevines, and passion vines, are distasteful and can cause birds that eat them to vomit or spit them out–never to try another.

Do Butterflies like to where clothes like people?

If you go to a butterfly conservatory (an indoor place where they let butterflies live and they raise them from caterpillars) wear brightly coloured clothes as they will think you are a lovely flower and hand on you!!

How many kinds of butterflies are there in life?

Worldwide, there are approximately 28,000 species. There are about 725 species in the USA and Canada. About 2,000 species have been found in Mexico. About 80% of all species are in the tropics. The United Kingdom has 58 species of butterfly and 2,000 species of moth.
Info from

What is the smallest butterfly? What is the biggest butterfly?

Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae), with a wing span of 11-1/8 inches (280 mm), is found only in the rain forest of New Guinea. Destruction of its habitat is threatening this beautiful creature with extinction.

The smallest butterfly, the Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis), is found in the southern United States. Its wingspan is 1/2 inch (15 mm).
Info from

How long do butterfly live?

Different butterfly species have different adult potential life spans. An average butterfly species has an adult life span of 2 weeks or less. No adult butterfly can live more than a year. The Mourning Cloak adult and some related tortoiseshells and anglewings that hatch in early summer may live almost a year. Monarchs and Swallowtails may live about a month in the summer, but the Monarchs that migrate to Mexico or the California coast may live up to 6 months.
Info from

How do butterflies get in love?

The male butterfly makes and gives off a pheromone – a ‘you will fall in love’ smell that attracts the female butterflies!!  Think of it as a type of cologne that your father might have worn that your mother liked the smell of!

What are the butterfly’s names?

Butterflies have Latin names which is how we classify (put into groups) living organisms – which is used weather you speak English, French or any other language in the world.  We as humans our Latin name is Homo sapiens (meaning wise man or knowing man).  Butterflies have Latin names like Danaus plexippus which we common call Monarch Butterfly (which is easier to say and remember!!).  Also you need to consider that other languages and how they say butterfly….

Where do they like to be?

Butterflies like to be where it is warm.  They can not fly when their body temperature is lower than 30C – which is lower about the temperature of a warm classroom.  They tend to migrate (like birds) to the south for the winter months.  If you think about it Mexico is a really long way from Ontario and that is where the Monarchs like to fly to for the winter!

When will a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis, is it in a little amount of days of a big amount of days?

They do it over a few hours… but watch this to see it in a minute and an half!!

How do you know the butterflies are a boy girl?

The color pattern on the upper wing (dorsal) surfaces often differs in many species of butterflies. For example, the Monarch male has black round dots on its back – scent glands (make pheromones – a smelly scent that attracts the females!) and the female does not have these but has wider veins on her wings

Another good way to tell the difference between male and female butterflies is by behaviour. Males are often perching or patrolling in search of females, and females spend a lot time searching for plants on which to lay their eggs.

How many eggs can a butterfly lay in a day?

Some species lay one egg at a time, others lay eggs in small clusters, while others lays hundreds at a time!

The eggs are usually laid in a protected location on or near the plants that the soon-to-be caterpillar will eat. Most eggs are attached to the plant with a fast-drying glue-like chemical that the female butterfly secretes along with the egg.  Eggs are usually laid on the under surface of a leaf or somewhere near the host plant. For example, the Monarch butterfly lays its eggs on the bottom of the milkweed plant which its caterpillar will eat. Other locations are flower heads, and crevices in tree bark. A few (like ghost moths) lay thousands of eggs while they fly; the larva of these species usually eat grass.  Butterfly eggs come in many shapes and colors. The shapes include spherical, oval, and pod-shaped; the colors include white, green, and yellow.
Info from

Why do they like to fly?

It is just easier to fly from flower to flower to get food.  Think about being a little insect and having to climb up to a flower rand then back down to the ground – over and over again…. Makes me tired just thinking of it!!

How do butterflies learn to fly?

Oddly enough they just fly…. No one teaches then they just try it and do it!  This type of thing is called innate behaviour (a way of being or acting that our brains and bodies just know how to do – like breathing – no one taught you to breathe and you don’t have to think about it – it just happens!).

Do butterflies fly right after they come out of there cocoon?

Their wings are still damp when they come out of the cocoon so they can not fly till they are fully expanded and dry.  A monarch cocoon would have been mint green with golden looking beads on it and turn clear right before it emerges.  **Mr. Puley is editing the video of our monarch named Rose that hatched at our house!!  He will send it when it is ready!

Do the butterflies still have the legs that were on the caterpillar?

This question is very interesting but I can not find a good answer as to Yes or No…. I would believe that the answer is No as a caterpillar has 16 legs and a butterfly has 6!!

Do butterflies have hearts and how big are butterflies hearts?

A butterfly heart doesn’t look like a human heart and they do not have blood! The butterfly has a long chambered heart that runs the length of its body on the upper side (its back). It pumps hemolymph (it lacks the red color of blood) from the rear of the insect forward to bathe its internal organs – which will give them oxygen so they can do their work.
Info from

Do butterflies have lungs?

Adult butterflies, as well as caterpillars, breathe through a series of tiny openings along the sides of their bodies, called “spiracles.” From each spiracle, a tube called a “trachea” carries oxygen into the body. Butterflies don’t have noses and lungs as we do. Butterflies “smell” with their antennae. Many butterflies can taste with their feet to find out whether the leaf they sit on is good to lay eggs.
Info from

Do butterflies have brains?

Yes!! See the diagram of a butterfly body in the heart question and answer.

How many eyelashes to butterflies have?

A butterfly has compound eyes: each eye is made up of about 6,000 tiny parts called lenses, which let in light. No eyelashes though.

Do butterflies see in colour?

Yes they can see red, yellow and green colours.

How do butterflies eat?

Butterflies don’t eat since they do not have mouths!!  They use their proboscis to ‘slurp up’ a tasty treat – such as nectar from flowers, rotten fruit or even dung (that’s a Fancy word for poop!!) – yep they tend to like yucky things too!!

What kind of flowers should we put in are butterfly garden?

This really depends on what Butterflies you want to attract!!  Remember you may also want to plant food that caterpillars can also eat!!Check out this cool webpage that has lots of great steps and ideas to create the Perfect Butterfly Garden.

Do butterflies collect pollen?

They do spread pollen around like a bee or ant but it is not on purpose!  When they are drinking the sweet nectar they rub against the stamens (long sticks with pollen on end – like a Q-Tip) and the pollen because it is so sticky gets stuck to their bodies.  As a butterfly or bee flies to another flower it rubs up against other stamen and transfers the pollen.  A pollenated flower gives us our fruits and vegetables!!

One question I didn’t see in all of these awesome questions was…

What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth?

This is a question that I had and one that Medea has asked in the past.  I had to look it up to!!  So here is a great website that answers that question with picture examples!!


Thanks to Ms Dunsiger for letting me sneak into your classroom virtually and interact with your students.  They are awesome – as are you!!