I recently began following some blogs on wildlife gardening. I came across a blog that is authored by the keepers of the BioWorks Butterfly Gardens at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida. There are so many interesting facts about butterflies that I had no idea of, so I wanted to share some with you today. Butterflies each have four wings, two fore wings and two hind wings. Butterflies and moths belong to the order Lepidoptera. This name means "scale- wing" in Latin and refers to the scale cell structures found on the wings.
Scales: These tiny scales are not very noticeable to the eye when looking at a whole butterfly wing, but if the wing is touched you will find a fine colored dust left behind. That dust is actually the tiny scales that cover the wings of the insect. In butterflies, these scales overlap in orderly rows just like shingles on a roof. Without the support of the wing scales, butterfly wings are not as structurally sound and are more likely to break.
These tiny wing scales plug into equally tiny sockets on the wings and are individually colored to create the incredible wing patterns.
Special Scales: Lastly, some butterfly scales are very specialized. Androconia are a specialized scales on male butterflies that are scented to help attract mates during courtship. The tiny hairs that can be seen on a butterfly's head are actually scale that stand straight up and just look like hairs. WHO KNEW???