Why Is It Called A Butterfly?

Have you ever wondered why it’s called a butterfly? The butterfly has captivated people for centuries with its beautiful colors and graceful movements.

With an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 species of butterflies around the world, their popularity is undeniable. In fact, they even have a scientific name of Lepidoptera, meaning ‘scaly wings’. But why is it called a butterfly?

To answer this question, let’s look back in history to see where the name originated.

Why is it Called a Butterfly?

Do you ever wonder why this colorful, fluttering insect is so often referred to as a butterfly?

It is because of the unique shape of its wings, which look like a pair of upside-down wings of a large bird when they are open. The word butterfly first appeared in the English language in the early 16th century, and the origin of the word can be traced back to Old English. The roots of the word can be found in the Old English word butterfleoge, which is believed to be a combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—butter, meaning yellow, and fleoge, which means fly.

Butterfly Symbolism

In many cultures and religions, the butterfly is viewed as a symbol of transformation and rebirth. For example, in Mexico, the monarch butterfly has been venerated for centuries for its incredible journey from the United States to Mexico and back again.

The Aztecs believed that these migrating butterflies were the spirits of warriors and warriors’ wives who had died in battle. In China, butterflies symbolize good luck and joy, while in Buddhism, the butterfly often appears in mandalas as a symbol of rebirth and transformation. In Christianity, many interpretations of the butterfly story exist, with some believing it symbolizes resurrection, immortal life, and transformation.

Butterfly Anatomy

Although they may appear delicate, butterflies are actually surprisingly strong creatures. They have an exoskeleton, which is a hard outer shell made of chitin, a tough protein material. Inside their shells, they have a muscle that helps them to open and close their wings and four sets of wings on each side of their body.

The wings have tiny scales that are closely spaced and create a tight, waterproof seal. This helps them stay afloat while they fly, with just a few drops of water weighing them down.

Butterfly Life Cycle

Like all insects, butterflies go through a complex life cycle called metamorphosis. The process starts with a butterfly egg, which hatches into a caterpillar, or larva. The caterpillar then eats and grows, entering a pupal stage when it becomes a chrysalis. This is a hard shell where it undergoes metamorphosis, where the caterpillar develops wings, antennae, and eyes, becoming an adult butterfly. Once it has completed its metamorphosis and emerged from the chrysalis as an adult, the butterfly will feed on nectar, mate, and lay eggs, continuing the cycle again.


The butterfly has many symbolic meanings in different cultures, but it is its unique shape and wings that have earned it the name we know it by today. The ancient Anglo-Saxon roots of the word are echoed in modern day butterfly anatomy and life cycle, which involve a remarkable transformation process. Citation URL:https://en. oxforddictionaries. com/explore/where-does-the-word-butterfly-come-from/http://www. sdzsafaripark. org/conservation/butterfly-conservation/the-butterfly-life-cycle/https://www. britannica. com/animal/butterflyhttps://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Butterfly_symbolismhttps://www. pestworld. org/news-hub/pest-articles/butterfly-infestation/

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