Cairns Birdwing, the largest butterfly in Australia (Melbourne Zoo).
• Superfamily Hedyloidea:
• Superfamily Hesperioidea:
• Superfamily Papilionoidea:
Spider lily and butterfly Papilio xuthus Linnaeus 1767
A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like
all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual
life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive
pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a fa-
miliar and colourful winged adult form. Most species are
day-flying so they regularly attract attention. The di-
verse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings
and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly
watching a hobby.
Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily
Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea)
and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). But-
terflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposemat-
ism. Some migrate over long distances. Some butterflies
have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with
social insects such as ants. Butterflies are important eco-
nomically as agents of pollination. In addition, a few spe-
cies are pests, because they can damage domestic crops
and trees in their larval stage.
Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visu-
al and literary arts.
The four-stage lifecycle
Mating Common Buckeye Butterflies
Unlike many insects, butterflies do not experience a
nymph period, but instead go through a pupal stage
which lies between the larva and the adult stage (the
imago). Butterflies are termed as holometabolous insects,
and go through complete metamorphosis.
• Larva, known as a caterpillar
• Pupa (chrysalis)
• Adult butterfly (imago)
It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life
spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage