Butterflies can be counted amongst the most wondrous creatures in the natural world. They belong to the order Lepidoptera. They are also subdivided into three superfamilies, the Superfamily Papilionoidea which are considered to be true butterflies, the Superfamily Hesperioidea known as skippers, and the Superfamily Hedyloidea which are moth-butterflies. According to some estimates, there are about 20,000 species worldwide. Given below are some of the species.
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus): This distinctive butterfly's hind wings have elongated tails, and it has black and white banded markings on all its wings. The wingspan measures about 5-7 cm or 2-2.75 inches. In its adult stage, its lifespan is about 6 months. The larvae feed on papaya. It occurs in the eastern regions of North America right from Canada to Florida. It belongs to the family Papilionidae.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus): This is a poisonous species that is commonly found all over the world. It lays its eggs on the milkweed plant, which is poisonous, and the larvae feed on it. The wingspan of the Monarch is about 8.6-12.4 cm or 3 ⅜-4 ⅞ inches in size. The male has bright-orange markings with black borders as well as black veins on its wings. There are scent gland patches on the hind wings. The female's coloring is orange-brown with black borders, with the black veins being fuzzy. There are white spots on the borders of the wings as well as on the apex in both the genders. This butterfly can be found from the southern parts of Canada to all over the US, Central America, and a major portion of South America. It can also be found in the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, and Australia. It belongs to the family Nymphalidae.
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus): This butterfly species, with its orange and brown coloring and being a Batesian mimic, looks almost exactly like the Monarch. Being non-poisonous, the Viceroy is edible to its predators, and hence protects itself by mimicking the poisonous Monarch. The black line that runs across its wings is what distinguishes it. Plus, the under-parts of the wings are the same as the upper-parts, quite unlike the Monarch, the under-parts of which are lighter. Its wingspan is 7-7.5 cm or 2.75-3 inches. It occurs from Canada right down to Mexico. It belongs to the family Nymphalidae.
Ulysses (Papilio ulysses): This spectacularly beautiful species which occurs in Australia is also referred to as the Mountain Blue, the Blue Emperor, and the Blue Mountain Swallowtail. The wings of the adult male are colored a lovely iridescent-blue with a broad black border. The female's coloring is a little subdued comparatively. The underside of the wings is brown in color. The wingspan is about 14 cm or 5.5 inches. Both the genders have a tail on their hind wings. It belongs to the family Papilionidae.
Queen Alexandra's Birdwing (Ornitoptera alexandrae): With a wingspan of 30 cm or 1 ft in width, this is the largest species in the world. The female's wings are brown in color with cream spots, and is larger in size than the male. The male has an abdomen that is bright-yellow in color, and its wings are brown with green and blue markings. This is a rare butterfly and occurs in the lowland forests in the northern regions of Papua New Guinea on the eastern part of the Owen Stanley Mountains. This huge butterfly was named in honor of Queen Alexandra, who was the Danish wife of England's King Edward VII. This butterfly is on the list of endangered species of the US because its habitat is disappearing at a fast rate due to oil palm plantations being created.