Group Of Butterflies: What Are They Called And When Might You See Them?

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 11, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Flock of feeding orange butterflies.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

While visualizing a picture of sunny meadows with bright flowers, butterflies are the one crucial factor that completes it.

Commonly called kaleidoscope or flutter, groups of butterflies are a common picture in many parts of the world. A butterfly is one of the most exciting and environmentally friendly insect species, which has been a focus of study for the last 250 or 300 years.

The name butterfly has been taken from the word 'butterfleoge,' and today, there are over 17,000 known butterfly species all over the world. Moths hold the closest resemblance to a butterfly, and often moths are thought to be nothing but a colored variant of butterflies. These insects, which evolve from caterpillars, are also significant in the spiritual world. They are an embodiment of change, hope, transformation, and positivity. They are joyous creatures that indicate new beginnings.

If you like reading about animals and insects, you can also learn about a group of bees and the green weevil.

What is a group of butterflies called?

The name used for a group of butterflies is a kaleidoscope. Butterfly groups also have other names, like a swarm, flutter, flight, or even wing.

Similarly, a team of caterpillars is commonly called an army. Monarch butterflies, a famous species of butterflies, have a tendency to gather together at night in trees. This cluster of monarch butterflies is termed a roost. This behavior of monarchs is considered to be anti-predatory activity. This is because at night when the temperature drops, monarchs face a sharp drop in their body temperature. With a temperature drop, they become vulnerable to their predators, like fire ants or spiders. Staying together in a large swarm ensures their safety.

When might you see a group of butterflies?

Butterflies can be seen in groups while they gather for food or are migrating. For nourishment and food, butterflies are often seen clustered together near mud puddles. You may also notice a large number of butterflies clustered around some rotten fruits, which act as their food source. Although pollen is the staple diet of butterflies, it hardly provides them their essential nutrients, for example, sodium.

There are super-bloom periods, which is the phase when a flower blooms in unusually large numbers. During these times, butterflies like monarch butterflies or painted lady butterflies swarm large areas in groups for pollen. Fields filled with California wildflowers are perfect areas to see painted lady butterflies during the super-bloom season. You can also observe butterflies flying in large groups during their migration season. Butterflies migrate for various reasons, such as to avoid the cold or to avoid other harsh climatic conditions.

For instance, monarch butterflies are quite susceptible to cold weather and migrate from Canada towards Mexico during harsh weather. On the other hand, American snout butterflies can be seen migrating in groups during drought conditions from South Texas to the north. They fly in groups so large in size that they often cover the sky and make it dark.

How do butterflies help the ecosystem?

Butterflies are pollinators, which are known to pollinate agricultural fields, and they also act as a source of food for many predatory insects, birds, and other animals.

The presence of butterflies in an ecosystem is directly related to its health. A healthy ecosystem will sport a swarm of butterflies and caterpillars, along with other invertebrates like spiders and worms. They increase the diversity of the ecosystem. Even in the food chain of the ecosystem, butterflies act as a food source for other birds, parasites, and insects and help to maintain the ecological balance. If the population of butterflies decreases, it can have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem.

Butterflies, along with other insects, pollinate fields and also act as nature's pest control. These insects are attracted to bright-colored flowers, and nectar is their primary food source. For reproduction, most plants, as many as 90%, require an external source to pollinate them. Owing to the rapid decline in the bee population, the importance of butterflies as a pollinating agent has increased over the years. Due to pollination, plants which are otherwise susceptible to diseases get a better chance at life. Plants also are able to produce fresh seeds after pollination by external agents.

A butterfly is more conscious of natural changes happening around it compared to any other insect. In areas with a lack of butterflies, birds do not prefer to lay eggs due to food shortage with no butterflies as a possible food source. Butterflies also pose as the perfect case study for scientists who are studying climate change in any particular area.

Monarch Butterfly in a group

Different Types Of Butterflies

Various types of butterflies include the monarch butterfly, the swallowtail butterfly, the red admiral butterfly, among others. Of all the different butterfly species, approximately 750 are found in the US alone. They can be grouped into the type of ecosystem that they belong to.

There are grassland butterflies, which you can commonly see around sunny meadows, sucking nectar from flowers. These butterflies are colored in a bright palette, and in the US, some of the most widely found grassland butterflies are monarchs, viceroys, and crescents. The next type of butterflies is located in hilly or mountain areas. Although butterflies are known to have a lower threshold for cold, there are a few species that have evolved in these harsh, cold niches. One unique characteristic of these butterflies is that they have dark hues, which helps them to absorb sun rays and stay warmer. The northern blue, the piedmont ringlet, and the Arctic fritillary are some examples.

A pine butterfly and a comma butterfly are some common examples of woodland butterflies. These butterflies are not as colorful as grassland ones, but they have the maximum variety across all countries. The next type of butterflies includes coastal variants, which have adapted themselves to the salt of the ocean. In the US, a couple of the most common coastal butterflies are red admiral butterflies and sleepy orange butterflies. Butterflies which are found near the tropics are some of the brightly colored ones and are considered to be exotic butterflies. These butterflies have hues of bright pink, yellow, and blue all over their wings and are slightly bigger in size than others found across the world. This category includes the blue morpho butterfly, the Isabella butterfly, and the glasswing butterfly.

Did you know?

Some fantastic and fun facts about butterflies are that they have transparent wings, which are not two in number but four, and did you know they taste their food with their feet?

  • Butterflies do not have colorful wings but transparent ones. The color that is visible to your eye is simply a reflection from the minute scales which make up their wings!
  • The maximum lifespan of a butterfly is only a few days. A Priam's birdwing butterfly is known to live the longest in this family. How long? 10 days only!
  • Butterflies survive on a liquid diet only. They have a proboscis in their mouthparts, which act as a straw for drinking sap or nectar.
  • Did you know that Queen Alexandra's birdwing is the largest butterfly? The wingspan of this butterfly crosses 9.8 in (25 cm). In contrast, with a wingspan that hardly reaches 0.78 in (2 cm), the western blue pygmy butterfly holds the record for being the smallest one.
  • Colors that human eyes can not visualize, a butterfly is known to see them.
  • If you see a butterfly resting, it means that it is storing energy to fly again. Why? Because it can not fly in the cold, and while resting, it absorbs heat.


Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for group of butterflies, then take a look at oil beetle or bee hawk-moth.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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