Butterflies

Butterfly in the tropical house at Wingham Wildlife Park

Butterfly Natural History

Size

The sizes of butterflies can range greatly from as small as 0.5 inches right up to 12 inches, however the average is around 0.5 and 1 inch range.  On average butterflies weigh as little as  (0.003g).

Habitat and Distribution

Other than the arctic and Antarctic, butterflies can be found in all parts of the world, being able to live in almost any habitat.

Age

The adult life of a butterfly can range vastly from only a single week to almost a whole year.  Before this stage however it will go through the caterpillar stage of its life and spend some time as a pupa in its cocoon, which can vary greatly in time span between species.

Diet

The majority of their diet is made up of nectar from flowers, however some will also feed from pollen, rotting fruit, tree sap and even dung.

Groups and Breeding

Most butterflies will seek out territories which they will defend by chasing off intruders, and breeding usually follows on from elaborate courtship displays by the males.  After breeding females may lay up to 100 eggs, however only around 2% actually survive to reach their adult stage.

Threats

The main threat for these insects across their various ranges comes from climatic change which is not allowing them to develop their life stages fully in some cases, or in other areas is decreasing their natural life span.  Another threat to this species come from collection for either the pet trade or to be dried out for display purposes.

Interesting Facts

The coloration of the wings is held in the scale which loosely cover the wings surface, and when these scales are removed the wings become fairly plain in coloration.  The monarch butterfly which migrates from Mexico to Northern America may fly up to 3000 miles on this migration.  There are between 15,000 and 20,000 butterfly species worldwide.

The Butterflies During Your Day Out in Kent

The butterfly room in our tropical house is used to keep a variety of different butterfly species from around the world, with the majority of our species coming from the Philippines & Malaysia, Central and South America.

Please check in advance if you are coming specifically to see our Butterflies because this is a seasonal exhibit within our park, and if coming to see a specific species we cannot guarantee whether or not this species will be on display during your visit.  The list below shows the variety of species which we keep and should be used as an example of the depth and quantity of species which inhabit the area over the course of a whole season.

Julia Butterfly / The Flame (Dryas julia)
The Emperor / Common Morpho / Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)
The Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)
Tiger Mimic Queen (Lycorea cleobaea)
Danaid Eggfly / Mimic / Diadem (Hypolimnas misippus)
Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon)
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexipus)
Red Postman (Heliconius erato)
Brown Peacock / Scarlet Peacock (Anartia amarthea)
The Great Eggfly / Blue Moon Butterfly / Common Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina)
The Clipper (Parthenos sylvia sylvia)
Mother of Pearl Butterfly (Salamis parhassus)
Blue Spotted Emperor / Blue Spotted Charaxes (Charaxes cithaeron)
Blue Pansy (Junonia oenone)
Cydno Longwing (Heliconius cydno)
Common Mormon / Swallowtail (Papilio polytes)
Sara Longwing (Heliconius sara)
Scarce Bamboo Page / Dido Longwing (Philaethria dido)
Mimic (Heliconius numata)
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius)
Juno Silverspot / Juno Longwing / Juno Heliconian (Dione juno)
Purple Mort Bleu (Eryphanis polyxena)
Tailed Jay / Green Spotted Triangle Butterfly (Graphium agamemnon)
Gulf Fritillary / Passion Butterfly (Agraulis vanillae)
Red Lacewing (Cethosia biblis)
Lilac Beauty / Lilac Mother of Pearl Butterfly (Salamis cacta)
Isabellas Longwing / Isabellas Heliconian (Euides isabellae)
Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas)
Autumn Leaf / Leafwing (Doleschallia bisaltide)