Butterfly Pictures


Butterflies belong to the insect order Lepidoptera, which is derived from a Greek word meaning "scale wing." The kaleidoscope of colours and patterns found on a butterfly's wing are created by tiny scales. Butterflies range in size from a minute 3mm to almost 300mm with about 24,000 species worldwide. The mouth of an adult butterfly is a long tube, which is kept rolled up ready for use as a straw to obtain nectar as a food source. Butterflies can see red, green, and yellow. The transformation of the strange looking caterpillar into an elegant butterfly is one of nature's marvels. There are four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Depending on the species, the life cycle of one generation takes anything from about one month to a year. Most adult butterflies only live for a week or two.

The transformative stage in the life cycle is truly fascinating. Studies show that inside the chrysalis the body of the caterpillar breaks itself down into undifferentiated cells – like stem cells, they can become any type of cell. Over the mutation period these cells put themselves back together into a different form – that of the butterfly.

However, these beautiful and amazing creatures are sadly becoming increasingly rare in Europe. Working towards ensuring their continued existence and reversing the decline in numbers is highly important for a number of reasons. Besides their beauty and their fluttering, peaceful presence, which brings high aesthetic values to our lives, butterflies (and moths) are good indicators of the health of the environment and ecosystem. A high number of butterflies indicates that our ecosystems are in good health. They are a crucial element of the food chain, and their presence means that many other species will also be present in our environment. You can help protect their numbers by planting flowering plants such as buddleia, verbena and lavender in your garden, keeping them well-watered and deadheading them to prolong their life throughout the summer.

You can also monitor numbers and record sightings of any of the more than 400 species in Europe by registering with any of a number of butterfly conservation organisations found online.

Their tragic decline has been attributed to intensive agricultural practices and use of pesticides. Just like bees, butterflies act as pollinators, so our crops are at stake, too. Their decline has also been attributed to a general loss of habitat – a problem which impacts on many other species of animal as well.
The pictures below show a wide selection of mostly tropical butterfly species which populate the Kerzers Papiliorama Foundation in Switzerland. You can stroll through the specially built tropical amphitheatre where over 60 species of butterflies are kept, and at the same time these pretty insects will be fluttering around in the air. You can learn about their coloration, their camouflage, and their evolution. You can even observe the complete butterfly life cycle of over 10 species of butterfly which breed naturally in the Papiliorama.

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