There are between 15,000 and 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide. And some of these species are now endangered because the delicate balance of nature is destroyed – as it has been in so many natural places – the butterfly is almost always one of the first to disappear.
A butterfly is an insect of the order of Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life circle with a larval caterpillar inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and a colorful winged adult form.
Most species of butterflies are day-flying so they regularly attract attention. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (super family Papilionoidea), the skippers (super family Hesperiodea) and the moth-butterflies (super family Hedylidea). Below are some endangered species of butterfly.
The Morpho Butterfly
A Morpho butterfly may be one of over 80 species of the genus Morpho. They are found mostly in Mexico, South America and Central America. Their wingspan ranges from 7.5 cm (3 inch) to 20 cm (8 inch). Many Morpho butterflies are colored in metallic, shimmering shades of blue and green.
The Emerald Swallowtail
The Emerald Swallowtail (Papilio palinurus) is a butterfly found primarily in South East Asia and is one of the very few green butterflies around. It is also referred to as Emerald Peacock or Green-banded Peacock Swallowtail. Several subspecies are found in Burma, Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines.
The Owl Butterfly
The Giant Owl Butterfly falls under the genus Caligo and are commonly called Owl butterflies, after their huge eyespots, which resemble owls’ eyes. There are about 20 species in the genus, found in the rain forests of Mexico, central and South America.
Owl butterflies are very large,whose wingspan can reach more than 8in and fly only a few meters at a time. Therefore, avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly around dusk, when few avian predators are around.
The Karner Blue Butterfly
Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) has a wingspan of about an inch where male and female are different in appearance. The topside of the male is silvery or dark blue with narrow black margins. The female is grayish brown, especially on the outer portions of the wings, to blue on the topside, with irregular bands of orange crescents inside the narrow black border. The underside of both sexes is gray with a continuous band of orange crescents along the edges of both wings and with scattered black spots circled with white.
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing is the largest butterfly in the world. With a wingspan reaching nearly 10 inches (25 cm) in the large females, this butterfly is larger than many birds! The sexes are differently colored, with males iridescent yellow, green and/or blue on a black background, while the females are brown with lighter spots. The Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly is mostly found in the lowland forests of northern Papua New Guinea.
The Mission Blue Butterfly
The Mission Blue Butterfly, (Plebejus icarioides missionensis), is a blue that is native to the San Francisco Bay Area, U.S.A. It is a small butterfly, measuring only 21 to 33 mm. which is about the size of a quarter. Mission blue butterflies can have a wingspan between 1–1½ inches. The top wing, in mission blue males, ramps from ice blue in the center to deep sky blue and the margins of the upper wing are black and sport “long, white, hair-like scales.” The male butterfly also has small circular gray spots in the submargins on the ventral surface of the whitish ventral wing surface. The male body is a dark-blue/brown color. Females’ upper wings are dark brown, but otherwise mirror males’.
The Maritime Ringlet Butterfly
The Maritime Ringlet Butterfly (Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough), is one of only two species of butterflies in Canada that live exclusively in salt marshes. The Maritime Ringlet is restricted to salt marshes in Chaleur Bay between Quebec and New Brunswick. There are three colonies near Bathurst, New Brunswick, two near Miguasha, Quebec, and one near St-Siméon-de-Bonaventure, Quebec. The Maritime Ringlet is a dark-appearing butterfly in which the males have dark orange-brown wings with the central part of the forewing slightly paler orange brown. Females are pale orange brown. On the underside the pale median band contrasts with the dark grey-brown ground color. About 30 per cent of males and almost all females have a pale-bordered black spot with a silver pupil near the forewing apex on the underside. Their wingspan ranges from 32 to 36 mm.
The El Segundo blue butterfly
The El Segundo Blue Butterfly is 0.8-1 in (20-25 mm) long. Males are bright blue above with black margins on their hind wings while females are dark brown above. Both sexes are light grayish below with black squares or spots and an orange band, bordered on both sides by a row of black dots.