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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Brush-Footed Butterfly: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Interesting brush-footed butterfly facts for kids to learn

All across the world, there are around 6000 species of brush-footed butterfly, all belonging to the Nymphalidae family. Out of them, the most common species are the mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), fritillary, limenitis, milkweed and monarch butterfly. Their life cycle starts as eggs, forming larvae, green caterpillars and finally adults with wings. They have short hairy forelegs, spines, antennae on the head feed mostly on nectar. Most males and females species have bright colored wings with white spots and a black body from where the wings emerge. Females lay up to 100 eggs that take 12 months to complete the entire life cycle from larvae to adults. Some species native to southern Canada migrate to other places to hibernate in winters and return as adults in the spring. Interestingly, in some species, the black and brown spots on their bodies make them cryptic (camouflages) to their surroundings.

For more relatable content, check out these queen butterfly facts and morpho butterfly facts for kids.

Brush-Footed Butterfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a brush-footed butterfly?

The brush-footed butterflies belong to the Nymphalidae family of butterflies and moths. Nymphalidae brush-footed butterflies have over 6000 diverse species all across the world, making it the largest butterfly family.

What class of animal does a brush-footed butterfly belong to?

All the brush-footed butterfly species belong to the class of Insecta.

How many brush-footed butterflies are there in the world?

At present, there are over 6000 species in the world. Out of the many species, the most common ones are fritillary, mourning cloak, painted lady, limentis, nymphalis, lepidoptera.

Where does a brush-footed butterfly live?

The brush-footed butterfly lives across a wide range of geographical area. The area ranges from Southern Canada and most of the United States to Southern Mexico.

What is a brush-footed butterfly's habitat?

The habitat of the neotropical brush-footed butterfly is mostly terrestrial. They prefer to live around flowering plants that suit their menu to feed upon. They live in diverse areas like the grass plains, wetlands, mountains, rainforests, savanna grasslands, semi-deserts.

Who do brush-footed butterflies live with?

Brush-footed butterflies are loners. They prefer flying around by themselves and sit on various plants or flower with their brush-footed front legs.

How long does a brush-footed butterfly live?

Most of these butterfly species like the brown brush-footed butterfly are known to live for a year. From the stage of eggs to larvae to caterpillars to adults, their entire life cycle gets completed within one year.

How do they reproduce?

Males and females mate in the open on the surface of the plants. Females lay up to 100 eggs which have black and white spots on them. Soon the eggs form into larvae that have spines or hairs on their body. As their life cycle proceeds, they metamorphose into the pupae stage where they hang upside down from the leaves of the host plants. Thereafter, they turn into caterpillars before finally spreading their wings as adult butterflies.

What is their conservation status?

In general, the Nymphalidae family or brush-footed butterflies make up the largest species of butterflies in the world. Hence, at present, these butterflies are listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. In countries like North America, Canada and India, several butterfly observatories dedicated to the research and conservation of these butterflies.

Brush-Footed Butterfly Fun Facts

What do brush-footed butterflies look like?

Belonging to the Lepidoptera order, out of the many species, the mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), painted lady, Daus plexippus, Fritillary, Admiral, Boloria, Polygonia, Limenitis, Vanessa, Nymphalis, and Milkweed are the most common. All these species fall under the Nymphalidae family of brush-footed butterflies. Many adults have wide and broad orange and black colored wings. All species have different colors like black, brown blue, red, yellow, orange, with white spots. The distinguishing feature about them is that they have four legs having brush-like hairs on them. A pair of antenna comes out from their head. Their eyes are small and dark black. Caterpillars have needle-like projections on their bodies to ward off predators and are green in color.

Fun brush footed butterfly information you shouldn't miss out on

How cute are they?

In adults, the most beautiful part of their body is their beautifully colored wings. The black lining on the outer edge of their wings with white spots gives them a cute look. Added to this are their cute-looking brush-haired fore legs with which they are sometimes seen walking on the leaves or flower plants. Before becoming a butterfly, a green-colored caterpillar also looks extremely cute while crawling.

How do they communicate?

They usually don't communicate much unless in search of a mating partner. To woo their partners, they fly around with their brightly colored wings. Some adult species camouflage well into the surroundings to avoid communication and evade predation.

How big is a brush-footed butterfly?

Under the Nymphalidae family, several sub-families and species of brush-footed butterflies are present worldwide. The average wingspan of the adults ranges between 1.5-3.5 in (35-90 mm) of all the species. They are twice the size of brown moths and eight times smaller than a sparrow.

How fast can a brush-footed butterfly fly?

All species under the Nymphalidae family of brush-footed butterfly flies within the speed range of 4.9-31 mph (8-50 kph).

How much does a brush-footed butterfly weigh?

The weight of these diverse families of brush-footed butterflies weighs negligible. The exact weight of the adults is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names assigned for the male and female species of these butterfly families.

What would you call a baby brush-footed butterfly?

After hatching out from the eggs, baby butterflies are known as larvae. Caterpillars are formed from the larvae, following which they enter the pupae stage before finally transforming into pretty-coloured butterflies.

What do they eat?

Butterflies and moths feed on a variety of host plants, plant sap and on flower nectar from those plants. They are herbivorous eaters and fly over long distances to feed on their menu. They are often found to be walking on their food surface, tasting the food before indulging in their meal.

Are they poisonous?

None of the butterfly species is poisonous to human beings. However, the brush footed butterfly caterpillar, if touched, can cause skin irritations and minor infectors because of its spiny body. Adults pose no threat to human beings and are not poisonous at all.

Would they make a good pet?

While many people catch the pretty-colored butterflies to keep as pets at home, it is not a good idea to do so. They should be allowed to fly around freely with their colorful wings. If you have a garden or a park nearby, you will definitely spot a number of white, black, brown, yellow or other brightly colored butterflies flying around or feeding on their host plants.

Did you know...

Instead of using their antenna projections, butterflies use two of their four legs to taste their food.

Female butterfly species usually have wider wings than males.

The antenna on the heads of these butterflies has a small bulb with a black mark, these are called clubs.

The forelegs of males are shorter and hairier than in females.

There exists a unique brush footed butterfly transparent in color called glasswing butterfly.

What is the difference between a brush-footed butterfly and a monarch butterfly?

Both the brush-footed butterfly and the monarch butterfly belong to the order Lepidoptera and the same family Nymphalidae. The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a sub-species of the brush-footed butterfly. While the brush-footed butterflies can be of a variety of colors like brown, black, orange, blue, red, the monarch butterflies have a brown body, with a black lining on their wings. Numerous white dots are present on the black lining of their wings. In countries like America and southern Canada, the monarchs are found to migrate over long distances towards the warmer southern regions for winter hibernation.

Why is a brush-footed butterfly also called a four-footed butterfly?

The adult brush-footed butterfly is also called a four-footed butterfly because of its short front legs which have hairs on them. These legs don't help them in walking but help them to cling to the surface of plants and flowers. They have spines and their wings are veined with bright colors. In most species, their heads have spiky projections with a pair of small eyes. Their bodies are covered with colorful spots ranging from black, white, orange, yellow. Another unique feature is that no cocoon is produced in the pupae stage and the pupae hang from the leaves upside down.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these monarch butterfly facts and viceroy butterfly facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable brush-footed butterfly coloring pages.

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