Learn More About Wisconsin's Prettiest Pollinators
by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9
Did you know butterflies have an important role in pollinating flowers? They especially like flowers that have a strong scent, contain certain colors such as red and yellow, or plants with plenty of nectar.
While butterflies can be easily seen in the air, they didn’t always start out this way. Butterflies begin as caterpillars. Over time, these insects undergo metamorphosis, a process in which they create a cocoon to transform into butterflies. Once they come out the cocoons, it takes time to learn and get used to flying.
An important type of butterfly is the Monarch Butterfly, also known as the Painted Lady. It gets its name from its black and orange colors. Monarch butterflies weigh the same as a paper clip and can grow up to four inches. They also have a lifespan for 15 to 29 days. In the winter, Monarch butterflies migrate 1,700 miles to Mexico to avoid the chilling temperatures of Wisconsin before returning during warming seasons. Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs in May or June on a poisonous plant known as milkweed. When their larvae hatch, this plant serves as a food source and in the process, the butterflies can become poisonous as they continue feeding.
Another common Wisconsin butterfly is the Small White butterfly also known as Rapae Pieris. You’ve probably seen this small butterfly flying around your home or maybe a park. This small butterfly is about 45 millimeters long and doesn't weigh a lot compared to the Monarch butterfly.
Some people do not see the importance of butterflies in the world. For example, farmers use poisons to kill milkweed, preventing the growth of caterpillars and therefore butterflies.
Ultimately, butterflies play a critical role in pollination of our flowers and it is important to understand their lifecycle and diets to improve our protection of these species for the future.