Butterfly, the popular name of several families of insects of the order lepidoptera, undergoing a complete metamorphosis, having four wings, and a tongue changed into a suctorial organ; from the last character they come under the sub-class of hamtellata of Fabricius. The term butterfly includes all the diurnal lepidoptera, or those which fly by day, of which the papilionidce are the principal family; the other families, as given by Mr. Stephens, are nymphalidae, lycaenadce, and hesperiadce. The crepuscular and nocturnal; lepidoptera will be noticed under the titles Hawk Moth and Moth. The order was named by Linnaeus from the Greek words (scale), and (wings), indicating the characters peculiar to the wings, which are covered on both sides with imbricated scales or feathers, to the unassisted eye presenting the appearance of dust or powder, but under the microscope displaying an arrangement as uniform and characteristic of species as that of the scales of fishes and the feathers of birds. The beauty of this order lias made them the special study of naturalists and the delight of collectors, so that their habits, metamorphoses, and structure are very well known. The most interesting and instructive points are connected with their metamorphoses, and these will be more fully alluded to under the title Cateepillar. - In the lepidoptera, the parts about the mouth are changed into suctorial organs; the mandibles are very much reduced, and the maxillae are transformed, each into a semi-canal, extensile, and capable of being rolled up spirally, which, when united, form the suctorial organ (lingua spiralis); at the base of this organ are two very short maxillary palpi, between which and the hairy labial palpi it is sheathed when rolled up; this tongue, if it may be so called, is very long in the butterflies.
In the caterpillar state these organs are masticatory and not suctorial, adapted for the food of these voracious larvae, while in the perfect insect the long tongue is necessary to obtain the liquid honey contained in the deep calyxes of flowers. In some species the anterior and lateral surfaces of the maxillae are provided with a considerable number of minute papillae, which are probably organs of taste as well as of exquisite touch. The eyes are compound. The abdomen has six or seven segments, is attached to the thorax by a very small portion of its diameter, and has no sting nor ovipositor; the legs are six in number, each composed of five parts, the .tarsus having five articulations; in some genera the anterior pair are short and folded against the chest, and entirely useless as locomotive organs. The ventral nervous system' consists of seven ganglia, the first two, the largest, belonging to the thorax; the connecting cords are single, except between the thoracic ganglia. In the caterpillars the ventral cord consists of 11 nearly equal ganglia; during the pupa state the first and second and the third and fourth are fused together, forming the second thoracic ganglia, which send off" the nerves to the legs and wings; the fifth and sixth are also fused into one.
Respiration is effected by means of tracheae extending through all parts of the system, and opening externally by stigmata on the sides of the body; the trunks arising from the stigmata open into two large lateral canals, from which the tracheae branch off. They have a well marked urinary apparatus; the Malpighian or uriniferous tubes are usually six in number, long, free, and open into the stomach by two excretory ducts; the tubes contain cells, disposed in rows, filled with very fine granules of a dark or brownish color; on the rupture of the cells, their contents pass into the stomach and digestive canal, and are either evacuated with the faeces, or separately as a troubled liquid; it is well known that they emit a considerable quantity of urine, when bursting from their pupa envelope. The two sexes are distinct, and the rudiments of the sexual organs exist in the youngest larvae, though their development takes place principally during the pupa state. The females lay their eggs, which are numerous and vary in form according to the species, upon such vegetable substances as the larvae are to feed upon; the time at which the eggs arrive at maturity coincides with the end of the pupa state, so that the sexes are ready to unite soon after they leave this state; this act accomplished, both sexes soon perish; the spermatic particles are filiform and very active.
The wings are membranous and veined, and covered with an immense number of beautiful scales, varv-ing in size, shape, and coloration, implanted by a small pedicle resembling the stem of a feather. An idea of the immense number and exceeding minuteness of these wing scales may be formed from the fact that Leeuwenhoeck counted 400,000 on the small silkworm moth; in a piece of modern mosaic work there may be nearly 900 separate pieces in an inch square, while the same extent of surface on a butterfly's wing may contain from 100,000 to 900,-000. - The life of the butterfly is a continued series of changes from the time of its leaving the egg till it becomes a perfect insect. As soon as the caterpillar is hatched it begins to eat eagerly, and increases rapidly in size during this larva state, changing its skin several times; before each change it ceases to eat, remains motionless, and sometimes attaches itself by a slight web to" the under surface of a leaf; it gets rid of the old skin by various contractions of the whole body, which separate the dry and shrivelled covering on the back, the insect escaping in the course of a few minutes; sometimes the internal lining of the alimentary canal, from the mouth to the extremity of the body, comes away with the skin; the latter takes place most frequently when the larva is about to change into a pupa, and often proves fatal.
When the full-grown caterpillar is ready to assume the pupa, nymph, or chrysalis state (for these are synonymous), it ceases to eat, evacuates the intestines, and suspends its contracted body to the under surface of some object, either by its legs, head downward, or by a little rope of silk; after remaining suspended several hours, it changes its skin for the last time in the manner above alluded to; the legs, antennae, and wings are extended along the body, and the whole is strengthened by the drying of the transparent fluid which facilitated the separation of the skin. In the pupa state the insect does not eat, and remains perfectly quiet; the pupa of the lepidoptera is said to be "obtected," because the future limbs are seen on the outside of the case. The duration of the butterfly in the pupa state depends much on external circumstances; if this condition happen in the hot period of summer, the perfect insect may appear in eight or nine days, or it may be prolonged to two or three weeks, and may even exist during the whole winter; during this state the insect is in a condition like that of the hibernating animals, respiration and circulation being reduced to their minimum in the first part of its confinement, but becoming active toward the close.
At the proper time the pupa case is burst open, and the perfect butterfly suspends itself with its new wings hanging downward; after these have become developed fully by active respiration and circulation, the insect remains at rest a short time until the external covering becomes hardened, forming the dermo-skeleton; it is then the perfect butterfly, which sips the honey from the flowers, reproduces, and dies. - The butterflies, properly so called, fly only during the day, and at rest usually hold their wings erect; the antennas are terminated by a little club, or are filiform in a few genera; they are-the only lepidoptera, a few moths excepted, in which the lower wings do not have a rigid bristle or fringe to retain the upper pair; their caterpillars have always 16 feet, and the chrysalis is naked, attached by the tail, and in general angular. Linnaeus comprised all the butterflies under the genuspapilio, but Latreille divided them into two sections, as follows: Section 1 contains all those which have a single pair of spines, on the posterior extremity of the tibiae, the wings perpendicular when at rest, and the antennae usually club-shaped at the end, but sometimes filiform; this includes the genera papilio and hesperice rurales of Fabricius, and is itself divided as follows: 1. Those in which the third articulation of the lower palpi is sometimes almost wanting, at others distinct, but as well covered with scales as the preceding one, and the hooks of the tarsi very apparent; some of them are six-footed, all the feet formed for walking, and nearly the same in both sexes, and their chrysalis in addition to the common posterior attachment is fixed by a silken thread across the body, or enclosed occasionally in a large cocoon, and the central partition cell of the under wings is closed underneath; in the four-footed species the chrysalis is simply attached by the tail; the caterpillars are elongated and almost cylindrical. 2. Those in which the lower palpi have three distinct joints, of which the last is nearly naked or with much fewer scales than the preceding one, the hooks of the tarsi very small and scarcely projecting, and the discoidal cell of the under wings open behind; the caterpillars are oval, or formed like the sow-bug; the chrysalis short, contracted, smooth, and attached by a silken thread across the body.
Section 2 is composed of species whose posterior tibiae have two pairs of spines, one at the end and the other above, whose lower wings are commonly horizontal when at rest, and whose antennae often end in a bent point; the caterpillars, few of which are known, fold up leaves, and spin within this covering a thin silken cocoon, in which the chrysalis is developed, smooth and without angular projections. - Among the genera of the first division of section 1 is papilio (Latr.), remarkable for their elegant shapes and beautiful colors; those spotted with red on the breast Linnaeus called ejuites Troes, or Trojans, and those without the spots Achivi, or Greeks. They are found in the tropical and temperate zones of both hemispheres; the caterpillars, when touched, thrust forth from a slit in the first segment just behind the head a pair of soft horns joined together somewhat like the letter Y; these are scent organs, giving out an unpleasant odor, and doubtless designed for their protection against flies and ichneumons.
Many have the under wings elongated, as the P. Machaon (Linn.), a European species of large size, with yellow wings spotted and striped with black, the under ones having some blue spots near the posterior edge, one of which is like an eye with red at the internal angle; the caterpillar is green, with black rings dotted with red, and feeds on the leaves of the carrot, fennel, etc. Of the American species, one of the finest is the P. asterias (Cramer), whose wings expand about four inches; it is of a black color, with a double row of yellow dots on the back, a broad band of yellow spots across the wings, and a row of yellow spots near the hind margin; the lower wings are tailed, and have seven blue spots between the yellow band and the outer row of yellow spots, and near the posterior angle an orange eye-like spot with a black centre; the spots on the under side are tawny orange. This species is very numerous in July, hovering over flowers, especially the sweet-scented phlox; in this and the following months the eggs are laid singly on various umbellate plants; the caterpillars have been found on the parsley, carrot, parsnip, celery, and other garden vegetables, to which they are very destructive; they come to their growth toward the end of September, when they become chrysalids, in which state they remain all winter, being transformed into butterflies in May or June following.
Another of our common and beautiful species is the P. philenor (Fabr.), with tailed greenish-black wings; the superior wings with four or five white spots on the margin, most conspicuous beneath; the lower wings highly polished green, with six pearl-white spots before the margin, beneath with a broad green border upon which are seven large fulvous spots, each surrounded by a black ring, and marked by a lateral white spot, and about six small white dots on the inner edge; thorax black, breast dotted with yellow, abdomen green with a lateral double row of whitish dots; the female is the largest, with brown wings and coppery reflections. The P. Turnus (Linn.), a common American species, somewhat resembles the P. Machaon of Europe; the general color of the wings is yellow, bordered with black dotted with yellow, with five partial bands of black anteriorly; on the lower wings are six yellow lunules in the black margin; the anal angle fulvous edged with white, with two or three green spots near it;• the body above is black, with a yellow lateral line; breast yellow, with two oblique lateral black lines.
In the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia is found the genus Parnassius (Latr.), the females of which have a horny boat-shaped pouch at the end of the abdomen; the caterpillars make a cocoon of leaves united by silken threads. A well known species in the Swiss valleys is the P. Apollo (Linn.), white spotted with black, with white eye-like spots, edged with red on the lower wings; the caterpillar is velvety black, with a row of red spots on each side and one on the back. The genus Thais(Fabr.)is characteristic of the south of Europe. In the preceding genera the internal margin of the lower wings is more or less concave; in the genus pontia these are dilated beneath the abdomen so as to form a groove. The butterflies of this genus are found in various regions of the globe, and are commonly seen flitting over the fields and moist places, mounting high in the air when they meet a companion; the caterpillar has no protruding tentaculum on the neck, and the chrysalis is suspended by a thread passed across the body. The genus pontia includes the British cabbage butterflies, consisting of nine or ten species, of a white or yellow color and small size; the general color of the caterpillars is green, and they are very injurious to the vegetable garden.
In Massachusetts there is a white butterfly, P. oleracea (Harris), which hovers over the cabbage, radish, and turnip beds about the last of May or beginning of June, for the purpose of depositing its eggs; t,hese are fastened, to the number of three or four on each leaf, to the under surface; they are hatched in a week or ten days, and the caterpillars attain their full size in three weeks, about 1 1/2 inch in length, and of a pale green color; they devour every part of the leaf; the chrysalis state lasts about 11 days, so that the perfect insects come out the latter part of July, and are ready to lay the eggs for another brood, the chrysalids of which survive the winter and come out in the following May. These butterflies fly low and lazily when about to deposit their eggs, and are easily caught in large numbers by a muslin net; the titmouse and other insect-eating birds devour the caterpillars with avidity. Among the four-footed butterflies, one of the largest and handsomest genera is Banais (Latr.), including the Fabrician genera oicuploza and idea, in which the antennas are terminated by a club, the inferior wings rounded and not forming a groove for the abdomen, and the upper wings more or less triangular.
D. plexip-pvs (Linn.), a common and large North American species, is of a fulvous yellow color, with dilated black veins, black margin dotted with white, especially in the superior angle of the upper wings; body black, with numerous white dots on the trunk; the larva is ringed with black and white, with two slender processes on the anterior and two on the posterior part of the body; the chrysalis is of a delicate green color, with golden dots; it feeds on different species of asclepias, and is abundant in the middle and southern states. In the genus argynnis (Latr.), the anterior feet are short and feeble, the under surface of the lower wings is often decorated with silvery and opaline spots, or yellow ones upon a fulvous ground, and the upper surface varied with red or orange, with spots or lines of black or brown; the caterpillars are beset with spines. In England, where there are several species, these butterflies are called fritillaries. The A. Diana (Cramer), of the southern states, though not one of the handsomest of the genus, is yet pretty from the contrast of the blackish and pale orange of its upper surface, and from the slender silvery lines of the under surface of the lower wings; its general color above is a dark brown, with a very broad fulvous exterior margin, with a few blackish spots and nervures.
The genus meli-tcea was separated from the last by Fabricius, and is distinguished principally by the yellow spots and checkered appearance of the under surface of the lower wings, and by the larva, which is pubescent, with small fleshy tubercles on the body, which is not armed with spines. The M. rnyrina (Cramer) is a pretty little species found from Massachusetts to Florida, somewhat resembling the M. selene of Europe; the wings are fulvous, with black spots and undulating lines; below there are more than 30 silvery spots, and an eye-like spot near the base of the inferior ones. In the genus Vanessa (Fabr.), the knobs of the antennee are short and broad; the palpi are long, curving, and contiguous, and form a kind of beak; the wings are jagged or tailed on the posterior edges; the under side of the lower wings is often marked with a golden or silvery character in the middle; the caterpillars are armed with numerous spines, often live in company, and do not conceal themselves under a web or within a folded leaf; the head of the chrysalis has two hornlike elevations and a prominence on the back resembling a nose, presenting rather a grotesque appearance; in both sexes the anterior pair of feet are short and very hairy, and the two posterior pairs with double nails. *Here belong the tortoise-shell butterfly (V. urticce, Linn.), and the folio wing, three other British species: the "Camberweil beauty" (V. antiopa, Linn.), with angular wings of a deep purplish black, with a yellowish or whitish band on the posterior edge, and a row of blue spots above; the peacock butterfly (V. Io, Linn.), reddish fulvous above, with a large eye-like spot on each wing, on the upper reddish surrounded by a yellowish circle, the under blackish surrounded by a gray circle, with some bluish spots, and under the wings blackish; and the "painted lady " ( V. carditis Gotd., more properly placed by Mr. Stephens in the genus cynthia), with wings red above, varied with black and white, underneath marbled with gray, yellow, and brown, with five eye-like bluish spots on their edges.
The following American species are worthy of mention: The antiopa butterfly ( V. antiopa, Linn.), occurring, as has been seen, also in Europe; this butterfly passes the winter in some sheltered place in a partially torpid state; great numbers are sometimes seen crowded to-gether in barns, apparently lifeless, with the wings doubled together over the back, but quickly becoming active on exposure to heat; it comes out very early in spring, often before the snow is off the ground, and may be seen sporting, with torn and faded wings, early in March in sheltered spots. The caterpillars despoil the poplar, willow, and elm of their foliage, on which they are found in great numbers early in June; they are black, with minute white dots, and a row of eight brick-red spots on the top of the back; being nearly two inches long, and armed with spines, they were formerly supposed to be capable of inflicting dangerous wounds; the first brood is produced in June, and a second in August, which become perfect insects before winter.
The semicolon butterfly (V. interrogations, Fabr.) has the wings on the upper side tawny orange, with brown and black spots; lower wings generally black above, beneath reddish, or marbled with light and dark brown, and a pale golden semicolon on the middle, whence the name; the wings expand from 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches, while those of the preceding are from 3 to 3 1/2 inches; it appears in May, and again in August, and is seen till the middle of October in sunny places. The caterpillars live on the American elm and linden trees, and on the hop vine, to which they are very destructive; the spiny caterpillars are favorite receptacles for the eggs of the ptero-malus Vanessm, a tiny chalcidian parasitic insect of the order hymenoptera, which destroys great numbers of the chrysalids in whose bodies the little maggots come to maturity. Smaller species are the V. comma (Harris) and V. progne (Fabr.), which are much alike, expanding from 2 to 2 1/2 inches, above of a tawny orange, the fore wings bordered and spotted with black, the hind wings blackish posteriorly, with two black spots in the middle, and a row of bright orange spots before the hind margin, the under side marbled with light and dark streaks, with a silvery comma in the former species, and a silvery L in the latter, on the middle of the hind wings.
The caterpillars are very much alike, being pale yellow, with a reddish head, white spines tipped with black, and a row of four rusty spots on each side of the body; they are found on the American elm in August. The genus nymphalis (Latr.), or apatura (Fabr.), contains some very large and beautiful species; the anterior feet are useless for locomotion, and the abdomen is received in a groove formed by the dilatation of the lower wings; the caterpillars are less spiny than in the preceding genera. The purple emperor of Europe, A. iris (Linn.), has very strong and thick wings, and is capable of a high and long-sustained flight; instead of the zigzag motions of common butterflies, the species of this genus soar in a steady manner like a bird of prey; from their flying over the tops of forest trees, they are difficult to capture, and therefore highly prized by collectors; M. Godart has described more than 260 different species, some of which are found in this country. In the genus morplio (Fabr.), peculiar to South America, the an-tennse are almost filiform; in this are included some of the most gorgeous of the lepidoptera.
In the genus hipparchia (Fabr.), or satyrus (Latr.), the antennas end in slight knobby or elongated swellings; the anterior feet are short, the hind pairs with double nails, the internal margin of the wings excavated to receive the abdomen, and the middle discoidal cell closed posteriorly; the caterpillar has no spines, but is downy, with the posterior extremity forked. It contains many species, the wings of which are often ornamented with beautiful eye-like spots; they frequent dry localities, over which they fly in a jerking and sudden manner. The H. Andromacha (Hubner), frequenting the southern and southwestern states, has the wings brown, with submarginal blackish spots, beneath paler, with a series of eye-like spots. The H. semidea (Say), about two inches in extent of wings, is of a brown color, the lower wings marbled below with black and white; it inhabits the highest summits of the White mountains of New Hampshire, and, according to Say, seems to be confined to that region. - In the second division of the first section are several small six-footed butterflies belonging to the family of lyccenadce; the caterpillars are short and almost oval, with feet so short that they seem to glide rather than walk, and they secure themselves by the hind feet and a silken loop across their bodies.
Here belongs the genus argus (Lam.), which contains many small species of an azure-blue color, variegated with black and white. The genus ery-cina (Lat.) belongs to America; polyommatus (Fabr.) is named from the beautiful eye-like spots of the under surface of the wings, which are generally blue above in the males, and brown in the females. The genus lyccena (Fabr.) includes the splendid little species called "coppers" by collectors. According to A. and O. Speyer, the lyccenadce and ery-cinadce belong to the division of heteropoda, in which the anterior legs are of a different form in the two sexes; in the latter, the males possess cleaning paws; in the former, the males want claws on the anterior tarsi, and the claw joint ends in a sharp point. - The second section of diurnal lepidoptera includes the family of hesperiadce, which frequent grassy places, flying short distances in a jerking manner, whence they are called " skippers " by English writers. The hesperia malvce (Fabr.) feeds on the mallows, whose leaves it folds up, and in which it is changed; the wings are indented, blackish brown above, with white dots and spots, beneath greenish gray with similar irregular spots; the caterpillar is gray, with a black head and four yellow points on the first ring, which is narrowed; the chrysalis is black, slightly powdered with blue.
In the genus eudamus of Dr. Boisduval is the E. tityrus (Fabr.) of this country; it expands from 2 to 2 1/2 inches, and is of a general brown color; the first pair of wings with a transverse band and a few spots near the tip of a honey-yellow color; the hind pair with a short rounded tail, and a broad silvery band across the middle beneath. This large and handsome species appears about the middle of June, hovering over sweet-scented flowers; it flies so rapidly and strongly that it is difficult to take it without injury; the females lay their eggs, singly, on the leaves of the locust (robinia pseudacacia and E. mscosa); hatched in July, they roll themselves in a covering of the leaves, as a protection from the weather and birds; the full-grown caterpillar is about two inches long, of a pale green color, with transverse streaks of darker green, with a red neck and head; each lives in its own case, one end of which is left open for egress at night, at which time it feeds; they remain as chrysalids in their leafy cocoons during the winter; the viscid locust is sometimes completely stripped of its leaves by this caterpillar. Of the genus urania (Fabr.), Mr. Swainson says the butterflies composing it " are perhaps the most splendid insects in creation.
No art can effectually represent the changeable and resplendent green which relieves the velvet black of the wings, and which varies with every change of light. The typical species are found in tropical America, where they fly with amazing rapidity, and perform, like their prototypes the swallows, annual migrations." - The butterflies are to insects what the humming birds are to the feathered tribes, the analogy holding good not only in their brilliant colors and manner of flight, but also in the nature of their nutriment, the honeyed juices of flowers. The happy life of the butterfly, flitting from flower to flower, from one sensual delight to another, resembles that of professed pleasure-seekers, the " butterflies of fashion," whose only object is enjoyment, whose existence is a blank, and whose lives add nothing to the progress of humanity; they are mere useless consumers of the products of other men's labors; a whole generation dies, and is deservedly forgotten. From the transformations of the butterfly, natural theology has drawn one of the most simple, beautiful, and convincing arguments for an existence beyond the grave.
We see the airy, brilliant, perfect insect, derived from the crawling, disgusting, and voracious caterpillar - a worm transformed into a sylph - a change that no one, unless it had been actually seen, would believe possible. Reasoning from analogy, this emblem of the butterfly has seemed typical of the change of the corruptible into the incorruptible after death; the grovelling human desires are represented by the creeping caterpillar; in the chrysalis we have presented to us the darkness and stillness of the tomb; and in the butterfly we recognize a newborn existence of the spirit, freed from the imperfections of the earthly and finite, and rejoicing in the pleasures of immortality.
Peacock Butterfly (Vanessa Io).
Antiopa Butterfly (Vanessa antiopa).
Skipper Butterfly (Eudamus tityrus).