Butterflies in Nature and Human Well-being
Most butterfly species are day-flying. The diverse and colorful
patterns of the wings and their varied flight patterns made these
"flying jewels" a joy to watch.
That is why butterfly-watching and butterfly photography have become a fairly popular hobby.
Some health care professionals believe that butterfly-watching may produce a healing effect on some patients. For example, the butterfly trail in Alexendra Hospital has been well-recieved by patients and medical professionals.
In the process of feeding from flower to flower, butterflies become nature's most hardworking and efficient pollinators.
Without pollination, plants will not bear fruits and produce seeds and the chances of propagation of new plants in nature will be reduced significantly, affecting not only many animal species that feed on plants but also contributing to greenhouse effect.
Butterflies play a role in the food web
Plants are the main source of food for many caterpillars before they turn
into pupae and go through the last stage of metamorphosis process to
become adult butterflies.
On the other hand, caterpillars and adult butterflies play a vital role as food source for birds, lizards, snakes and other predators in the food web in our ecosystems.
Innovation Inspired by Butterfly Wings
The butterfly wings are made up of many multi-layered tiny scales (see picture).
How can these butterfly scales make an impact on human lives?
The photos below show that when we observe the wings at different angles, the scales of the Green Oak Blue butterfly interact with the lights differently, resulting in different colours being seen.
An amazing property of the scales of the butterfly wings that scientists and engineers use to develop new generation of mobile display units.
Indeed, butterflies play some important roles in nature and human well-being. Let us do our part in butterfly conservation so that our next generation can continue to benefit from a natural environment that is thriving and rich in butterfly diversity.
Nymphalidae (Brushfoots)This family has one dominant characteristic in common: they have only 4 functional legs; their first pair of legs are reduced to small, brush-like appendages that serve no real function, rather like the human appendix or tailbone.
This is a large and varied group of family which consists of a few subfamilies. In Singapore, about 30% of our butterfly species belong to this broad family.
Papilionidae (Swallowtails)This family presents great variety of colour, shape and size. They are often attractive and many have tailed hindwings. However, some species do not have tailed wings.
Caterpillars in this famil have special defenses against predators. They have a special fork-shaped organ called the osmeterium on their heads, when disturbed, it will shoot out and produce a pungent smell that make predators avoid them.
Pieridae (Whites, Sulpurs and Yellows)This family do not possess tails. They are characterised by mainly white or yellow colouration, often with some black spots or markings. The males and females are usually dimorphic.
The male and female Striped Albatross (pictured) look different from each other.
Lycaenidae (Hairstreaks, Coppers and Blues)This large family consists of small butterfies. In Singapore, there are about 100 Lycaenidae species (about 35% of all butterfly species).
They are often brilliantly coloured-iridescent blues, bright reds, and oranges. Adults of both sexes have three pairs of walking legs, though most males have fused segments in their front legs.