It’s not surprising that Tambopata, Peru holds the world record for the highest number of butterfly species. This extraordinary region is one of the world’s most biologically diverse. More than 4,000 different types of butterflies make their home here! These brightly-coloured gentle creatures are also fascinating for a variety of reasons. Here are five interesting butterfly facts:
1. Butterflies only reproduce once during their lifetime! The female, once impregnated, will lay hundreds of eggs on host plants over the course of several days. The eggs have many shapes, sizes and colours based on the species. The eggshell is the first food eaten by the caterpillar, which emerges after one to two weeks.
2. Butterflies taste with their feet! They have taste sensors located under their feet which they use to locate food and determine good host plants for laying their eggs. A female butterfly’s feet will determine if a particular plant is a suitable host. Female butterflies will land on different plants and perform a tap dance on the leaves, causing the plant to release some of its sap.
3. Butterflies can’t fly if they’re cold! If the temperature falls below 13 degrees Celsius, they become motionless, unable to flee from predators or to feed. On cool days they warm up their flight muscles by shivering or resting in the sun.
4. Butterflies not only drink nectar from flowers: they consume a whole host of revolting things including urine, dung and decaying animal flesh. Many adult butterflies do not excrete waste at all. They use everything they eat as energy!
5. Butterflies drink the tears of reptiles to get much-needed sodium — especially male butterflies that need sodium for reproduction purposes.
Being in the jungle surrounded by these beauties is a magical life experience. I have spent many hours trying to get a decent photo of the majestic blue morpho butterfly. Their large size and vivid blue colour makes them one of my favourites. However, as their underside is shades of brown, black and grey, the flash of the spectacular blue is only fleeting as they fly through the jungle. Of course nothing compares to seeing them in person. It is as if jewels are floating through the jungle foliage.