Butterflies are like the peacocks of the insect world -- they dazzle with their brightly colored wings and flit delicately among blooming flowers. Yet how do these seemingly dainty bugs survive against the harsh outdoor elements?
The egg hatches into the butterfly's larval form -- the caterpillar. A caterpillar's job is to consume enough food to sustain itself during its transformation into a butterfly.
Finding a mate and reproducing are often the last events of a butterfly's life -- the females lay their eggs, then die.
At the end of each of its six legs, all of which attach to its thorax, are taste organs that the butterfly uses to find food.
Butterfly wings are made of an extremely thin, transparent material called chitin stretched over a series of veinlike structures.
Butterflies' bodies work best at an internal temperature of about 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). Butterflies can't move their wing muscles at all if they get too cold, which means they can't look for food or flee from predators.
During the day, you may see butterflies basking with their wings open to catch the warmth from the sun. They rely on their external environment to stay warm.
Nectar is the staple of a butterfly's diet. Flowering plants produce nectar that insects want to eat, and, in exchange, the insects spread the flowers' pollen, allowing plant life to reproduce.
The most famous butterfly migration route belongs to the monarch butterfly, which makes its journey from the northern United States to Mexico in several stages involving multiple generations of butterflies.
Butterflies eat a lot to keep their motors running and their wings flapping. Flying, in turn, helps keep them warm.
Since butterflies feed on nectar, you'll want flowers in your butterfly garden. Bright, single-petal varieties such as phlox or verbena work well.