Butterfly Origins


I ofen wonder of the brilliant things in this world and how they came to be. Recently, I found myself in a butterfly house, filled with warm air, green shrubs and fluttering wings that seemed to not still for more than a moment. I pondered what wonder of nature had brought these things into being and what had continued there surviva for all these years that Earth has been spinning in orbit around the sun. Much like humans did not start out as humans, I am interested to know where butterflies got their start. 

While butterflies can already be considered creatures that change over time, even in their own lifespan, what I am interested in is what butterflies evolved from to reach the many beautiful forms that they now have today. Butterflies were believed to be a day-flying evolution of the moth. Initially it was believed that it was bats that caused this evolution from moths to butterflies but this was disproven. Evidence was found for the emergence of butterflies before moths began to be disrupted by the existence of predatory bats, therefore meaning that this evolution did not occur because of the moths being forced to become day-flying because of the bats. Much like what scientists do, they disproved this theory and developed a new hypothesis on why moths millions of years ago developed and evolved into butterflies. This time, the idea is that butterflies began to emerge with the increase in the pollination of more colourful flowers. While moths existed before butterflies, they also existed before a time of increased pollination that allowed for a large colour spectrum and vibrance in the petals of flowers. This increase in pollination coincides with the emergence and evolution of butterflies and so is currently believed to be the cause. 

If we look further back, to before even the moth, we would find longhorn caddis flies. Mostly found in England nowadays, these flies have two long white horns protruding from the tops of their heads were used by the males to manipulate females before and during mating. Their larvae are aquatic and live in constructed cases made from sand grains or fragments of stems bonded to a silk tube surrounding the body of the insect. Certain moths still have features of these ancient insects, such as the aquatic based larvae. While caddisflies are considered trichoptera, butterflies and moths are considered to be lepidotera. 

Many of the beautiful things in this world stem from things that we are not aware of, although the answers are out there somewhere for us to explore. I often wonder how our world will continue to change in the years to come as they have done in the past. What will emerge in years to come, whether that be the next ten, thousand or million years of this world and what will we, as people, make of what has come. Perhaps it will, like the butterfly, grow more beautiful as it comes to grow and grow through its time. 


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