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Behavior & Courtship


Butterflies are recognized as inveterate sun-worshippers and, especially in temperate climes, may spend a significant proportion of each day on a suitable perch, wings outspread, following the sun as it wheels across the sky. The length of time a particular species of butterfly spends basking varies greatly according to species, the time of year and the nature of the weather. Species inhabiting the tropics, where a constantly high ambient temperature is maintained throughout the year, spend relatively little time basking, mainly restricting this activity to the early morning or the cool period immediately following a rain storm. Male nymphalids may also pause briefly to bask on a sunlit leaf after a period of puddling or feeding on dung on the cool forest floor. Butterflies bask in order to enable them to fly, an activity which requires very large amounts of energy; energy which is only available if the flight muscles have reached a temperature of at least 30°C (87°F). Most basking butterflies sit with their wings widely spread, thus presenting the maximum surface area to the sun's rays. Many Lycaenidae, however, bask with their wings closed.


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