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Butterfly Q & A

What happens when a butterfly's scales rub off?

Contrary to the old wives' tale, if you touch a butterfly's wing and remove scales in the process it is still capable of flying. In fact, a butterfly typically continuously loses scales during its life from normal wing wear. Scales serve a variety of purposes, from thermoregulation and camouflage to pheromone dispersal and species or sex recognition, but are not critical for flight. Once gone, however, the scales are permanently lost and will not grow back.


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