Butterflies of the Carolinas

Butterflies are the adult flying stage of certain insects belonging to an order or group called Lepidoptera. Moths also belong to this group. The word Lepidoptera means scaly wings in Greek.

This name perfectly suits the insects in this group because their wings are covered with thousands of tiny scales overlapping in rows. The scales, which are arranged in colorful designs unique to each species, are what gives the butterfly its beauty.

Butterflies are flying insects with two pairs of scaly wings and two segmented, clubbed antennae. Like all insects, they have a three-part body (head,thorax and abdomen), 3 pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and a segmented exoskeleton. Most butterflies prefer flower nectar, but others may feed on the liquids found in rotting fruit. To create a butterfly garden you will need a location with plenty of sun and protection from strong winds. Planting flowers with multiple florets that produce abundant nectar are ideal.

Butterfly Bush and Butterfly Weed are some of the most popular flowers used by butterfly gardeners. Caterpillars are the offspring of butterflies, they will eat the leaves of plants. The caterpillars will eat leaves from specific plants according to the species. Look for caterpillars on the underside of leaves of their host plants out of the way of predators. Some will hide during the day in shelters of leaves and grass and only feed at night.


Think before you spray One of the most important conservation decisions we can make is to avoid the use of broad spectrum pesticides sprayed all around the yard. These can kill beneficial insects as well as the ones you want to get rid of. It is best if you are able to try natural methods of pest control such as oils and soaps.