Parts of a Butterfly

For most people, butterflies are the epitome of warm, simple summer day. With gorgeous wings and a fleetness akin to that of fairies, butterflies complement the colorful plant life that they are frequently found with. However, there is much more to them than beauty and grace. Butterflies, being insects, have a head, thorax, and abdomen, meaning that their bodies are split into three sections, though each section is also divided into several segments. 

A chitin exoskeleton covers the butterfly and protects it due to its rigid texture. To allow flexibility, it is also segmented. 


Butterflies have a pair of antennae with knobs on the end and a set of eyes that are sensitive to both ultraviolet and normal light. These eyes have thousands of tiny lenses. Because of this, it is difficult for them to distinguish details, but it gives them a wide view and the ability to sense quick movement. 

Below the eyes are the palpi, which are similar to lips. The palpi are on either side of the proboscis, which is used to drink nectar because it is used like a straw. The proboscis is typically rolled up when not in use. 

There are a total of six segments on the head: the two antennae, two eyes, and proboscis, which consists of two fused tubes. 


The thorax is split up into three segments. The first segment, the prothorax, is where the forelegs are. This is the first of the three pairs of legs of a butterfly. The second segment, the mesothorax, has both the second pair of legs and the forewings of a butterfly. Butterflies have thousands of tiny scales on their wings, which is one of the distinctions that separate butterflies from other insects. The forewings are the larger pair of wings in a butterfly. The third section of the thorax is the metathorax, holding the last pair of legs and the typically rounder and smaller hindwings. 


The abdomen is the largest of the three sections of a butterfly. It contains the digestive, reproductive, and nervous systems. The abdomen is also where the spiracles are located. Spiracles are holes that allow butterflies to breathe. There are a total of eleven segments in the abdomen.

With twenty segments in three different sections, butterflies are far more complex than they are thought to be. Unfortunately, there are fewer butterflies every year. This is mostly due to habitat loss and corruption. If people were to take action to plant the plants that butterflies need to survive, there would be a much larger chance that they will remain abundant in the world, decorating the diverse canvas of nature and making the world a more beautiful, wonderful place.

For more information, see: