Butterflies of Lee County
What are Butterflies
Butterflies and Moths are insects that belong to the order Lepidoptera. The Greek word for scale (lepid) and wing (ptera) is joined to mean scale-wing. Their body four wings, and six legs are almost entirely covered with tiny colored scales placed similar in shingles on a roof. The body consists of three segments.
The Abdomen contains digestive, excretion and reproductive systems. Small holes in the abdomen called spiracles provide needed air to the body, because the female body contains her eggs, it generally is larger.
The Thorax bears the six legs and two pair of wings. The feet have a claw for climbing to objects and tiny sensors to taste plants, assisting the butterfly to identify host plants on which to lay her eggs.
The Head has two projecting club-ended antennas for acclimation and smelling. For nutrients, the butterfly has a retractable coil like a straw called a proboscis. It is used to drink nectar from flowers, liquids from dung, rotting fruit or vegetation. The large compound eyes have multiple lenses that are able to produce a single image and see ultraviolet and visiblelight.
Butterfly or Moth
(A General Rule)
Butterflies: Fly during the day - Have club-ended antennas- Are more colorful - The wings are together over the back. The five major families of butterflies contain certain characteristics and behaviors used to identify them.
Moth: Nocturnal-Fly at night - Have feathery or thread antennas-Drab color-Wings are generally by their side.
The Four Transformation Stages of the Butterflies Life Egg,
Single or clusters of fertilized eggs are laid on or near the host plant unique to that species of butterfly. The architecture of the eggs differs in each butterfly family. The single egg enlarged in the above photo resembles a cob of corn and is smaller then a pinhead. The larva develops inside the egg and nourishes itself on the egg yolk.
(caterpillar) Once hatched the larva becomes a living, eating machine. Most species eat specific plants called host plants. The caterpillar’s external skeleton must be shed several times as it grows. Each growth stage is called an instar. In its last instar-stage the caterpillar spins a silk pad to which it will attach itself. Releasing the front legs it swings down to resemble the letter J just before changing into a chrysalis.
After a time (days, weeks, or months)the chrysalis splits open and an adult butterfly emerges. It hangs there while the wings slowly unfold, as they are pumped full of the fluid hemolymph. The butterfly is now fully grown and only when the wings become dry is it able to fly. Butterflies are cold blooded and need the sun’s warmth to elevate their body temperature to become mobile.
The average life of an adult butterfly is 2-3 weeks. Different butterfly species may have either shorter or longer lives. Butterflies that migrate or over winter as adults have extended life spans.
Florida State Butterfly Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charitonius) Wing Span: 2.5 - 3.5 inches Host Plant: Corky Stem Passion Vine Family: Brush-Foots Host Plant: Passion Vines Passiflora, Suberosa & Incarnata Malachite
(malachite) Wing Span: 3.5 inches Host Plant: Green Shrimp Plant Family: Brush-Foots
(Danaus gilippus) Wing Span: 3 inches Host Plant: Milk Weed Family: Brush-Foots
(Junonia coenia) Wing Span: 2.5 inches Host Plant: Mangrove Family: Brush-Foots
(Phoebis philea) Wing Span: 2.5 inches Host Plant: Senna (cassia) Family: Sulphurs & Whites
(Papilio polyxenes) Wing Span: 3.5 inches Host Plant: Water Dewdrop Family: Swallowtails
(Vanessa cardui) Wing Span: 1.75-2 inches Host Plant: Thistle-Mallow Family: Brush-Foots
(Danaus eresimus) Wing Span: 3 inches Host Plant: White Vine Family: Brush-Foots
(Agrauls vanillae) Wing Span: 3.25 inches Host Plant: Corky Stem Passion Vine Family: Brush-Foots
(Phoebis sennae) Wing Span: 2.2-2.8 inches Host Plant: cassia Family: Sulphurs & Whites
(Calycopis cecrops) Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Wax Myrtle-Mango Family: Gossamer Wings
(Vanessa atalanta) Wing Span: 2 inches Host Plant: False Nettle Family:Brush-Foots
(Hylephila phyleus) Wing Span: 1.25 inches Host Plant: Grasses Family: Skippers
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus) Wing Span: 6 inches Host Plant: Sweet Bay Family: Swallowtail
(Urbanus proteus) Wing Span: 1.5-2.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes Family: Skippers
(Papilio cresphontes) Wing Span: 4.5 inches Host Plant: Wild Lime Family: Swallowtail
(Dryas Julia) Wing Span: 3.25 inches Host Plant: Stem Passion Vine Family:Bush-Foots
(Marpesia petreus) Wing Span: 2.75 inches Host Plant: Strangler Fig Family: Brush-Foots
(Danaus plexippus) Wing Span: 4.25 inches Host Plant: Milk Weed Family: Brush-foots
Great Southern White
(Ascia monuste) Wing Span:2.5 inches Host Plant: Saltwort Family: Sulphurs & Whites
(Leptotes cassius) Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes-Plumbagos Family: Gossamer Wings
(Hemiargus ceraunus) Wing Span: .75-1.0 inches Host Plant: Legumes Family: Gossamer Wings
(Protographium marcellus) Wing Span: 4 inches Host Plant: Pawpaw Family: Swallowtails
(Limenitis archippus) Wing Span: 2.75 inches Host Plant: Willow Family: Brush-Foots
(Anartia jatrophae) Wing Span: 1.75 inches Host Plant: Water Hyssop Family: Brush-Foots
Spice bush Swallowtail
(papilio troilus) Wing Span: 3.5-5.0 inches Host Plant: Red Bay Family: Swallowtails
Pine Vine Swallowtail
(Battus philenor) Wing Span: 4.5 inches Host Plant: Pipevine Family: Swallowtails
Donated by Nick and Aline Bodven
Photos & Art Work by Nick and Aline Bodven
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment.
Location. 26° 41.59′ N, 81° 46.656′ W. Marker is in Fort Myers, Florida, in Lee County. Marker is on Palm Beach Boulevard. Marker is located inside park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10901 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers FL 33905, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Explore Southwest Florida Naturally! (here, next to this marker); The Florida Manatee (here, next to this marker); Why do Manatees Come to Manatee Park ? (here, next to this marker); Other Visitors to Manatee Park (here, next to this marker); Freshwater Wetlands Habitat (here, next to this marker); The Anatomy of a Manatee (here, next to this marker); The Manatee-Human Comparison (here, next to this marker); Manatee Island (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Myers.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 14, 2017. It was originally submitted on August 7, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 134 times since then and 18 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on August 7, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.