Everyone knows the butterfly–the pretty little insects that flutter about among the flowers on a warm summer day, and the moths that come out mostly at night, and fly about our lamps in the evening. Butterflies and moths (for they are very much the same) are a very large family of insects. In fact, there are thousands of kinds of butterflies, small and large. They are all pretty, and some are very beautiful. Their chief beauty is their wings, which are of bright colors-red, blue, green, yellow, white, black-arranged in pretty patterns.
Some people make a hobby of collecting butterflies, and it is an interesting and healthy amusement, for it means long and pleasant walks in the country. Butterflies are caught as in thin, muslin nets fastened to long sticks. As the colors on their wings are easily rubbed off, they have to be handled very gently. When they are caught, they are killed painlessly and are then pinned with the wings stretched out on cork stands.
Except for the silk-worm moth, moths and butterflies are of no use to man, save that they give us pleasure with their beauty. They do not work like the bees; and they are not clever, like the ants; and their life is very short-only a few weeks at most.
But their life, though short, seems to be happy; and it is spent in flying about in the sunshine and flitting from flower to flower. So when people live a life of idle pleasure, we say they lead a “butterfly existence”.
The life story of the butterfly is very strange. Just before it dies, the female butterfly lays its eggs-each kind on the leaves of a different kind of plant. After some weeks, these eggs, hatch out-not into butterflies, but into what look like worms with little legs, which are called caterpillars. These caterpillars at once begin to feed greedily on the leaves, and they often do a lot of harm in gardens by eating up the plants. After a few weeks, when the caterpillar is fully grown, it goes to sleep in a covering that it makes for itself, called a chrysalis or cocoon. And in a short time, it bursts out of this covering and flies away as a butterfly.