A Green Swallotail
A green swallotail butterfly at rest.
A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form. Most species are day-flying so they regularly attract attention.
The diverse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly watching a fairly popular hobby. Butterflies are today distributed throughout the world except in the very cold and arid regions. There are an estimated 17,500 species of butterflies (Papilionoidea) out of about 180,000 species of Lepidoptera.