Butterflies

A cluster of western monarch butterflies clings to a branch as it overwinters in California.

The Best Place to Watch Monarch Butterflies Migrate Might Be This Little California Beach Town

Thousands of western monarchs migrate to Pismo Beach each fall to escape winter cold, but climate change threatens the species' survival

This is the 93-year-old Xerces blue butterfly specimen that researchers collected tissue samples from for this study.

New Research

This Butterfly Is the First U.S. Insect to Be Wiped Out by Humans

Genetic tests using museum specimens suggest that the Xerces blue was a distinct species and that it disappeared in 1941

Butterflies in Mexico’s monarch reserve. Their wings can function as solar panels, converting sunlight into energy for flight.

An Epic Monarch Migration Faces New Threats

The butterflies’ path, which stretches thousands of miles, is endangered by an array of challenges, including changes in climate and pesticides

The migration advances an average of 25 to 30 miles a day. A cyclist can cover similar distances.

What I Learned Biking the 10,000-Mile Migration Route of Monarch Butterflies

I set off to be the first person to cycle alongside the butterflies to raise awareness of their alarming decline

The western monarch butterfly has declined by 99.9 percent since the 1980s, according to the latest population assessment.

New Research

Climate Change Lays Waste to Butterflies Across American West

Study documents declines across hundreds of species over recent decades, and finds years featuring warmer, drier autumns are particularly deadly

Silver-washed fritillary butterfly

New Research

Study Reveals the Secrets of Butterfly Flight

The fluttering insects create tiny jets of air by clapping their flexible wings together, which may help them evade predators

America's eastern monarch population has fallen by about 80 percent, and the western population by 99 percent, but the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn't grant endangered status to specific populations of invertebrate species.

Why Monarch Butterflies Aren't Getting Endangered Species Status

Monarch butterflies qualify for protections, but 161 other species have higher priority

Monarch butterfly caterpillars will headbutt each other when food is scarce, according to new research.

New Research

Monarch Caterpillars Butt Heads Over Milkweed

A new study finds the colorful butterfly larvae will aggressively lunge at each other in pursuit of an extra mouthful of food

Some eastern monarch butterflies travel about 3,000 miles to reach their overwintering sites in Mexico.

New Research

Hand-Reared Monarch Butterflies Are Weaker Than Their Wild Cousins

In the wild, only about one in 20 caterpillars grows up to be a butterfly

Western monarch butterflies spend winter gathered in California's coastal groves.

Your Butterfly Photos Could Help Monarch Conservation

As monarchs leave their winter hideaways, conservationists are seeking assistance in studying their migration routes

Heliconius charithonia is one of the species of butterflies whose wing patterns scientists scrutinized to better understand the evolutionary process. This butterfly is wild-type; the genetically edited H. charithonia wings have wider swathes of yellow.

What Butterflies' Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution

Smithsonian scientists used genetically-engineered butterflies to learn that evolution can take a different path to achieve the same thing

Curious sculptures have popped up throughout the Smithsonian campus in its gardens and are meant to show the inner-workings and relationships of insect and plant habitats.

The Gardens Around the National Mall Are Growing Giant Nests and Fanciful Tunnels

The new exhibition “Habitat” is a whimsical, art-filled lesson on ecosystems and how they work

This moth specimen was mistakenly identified as a butterfly in 1793, leaving biologists to wonder what happened to the missing "butterfly" for more than 200 years.

One of the 'Rarest Butterflies Ever' May Have Been a Moth All Along

A species description from more than two centuries ago has fooled scientists until now

Heliconius cydno chioneus

The Reason These Poisonous Butterflies Don't Mate Is Written in Their DNA

Wing color and mate preference seem to be genetically bound, leading these tropical butterflies to only choose mates that look like them

The Gulf fritillary butterfly is one of many that call the sanctuary home.

Border Wall Construction Threatens Texas Butterfly Sanctuary

Construction vehicles and law enforcement arrived at the National Butterfly Center on Sunday, sparking confusion among staff members

New Butterfly Species Named After 17th-Century Female Naturalist

Maria Sibylla Merian documented the lifecycles of moths and butterflies with unprecedented accuracy

Cool Finds

Moths Love Sipping the Salty Tears of Sleeping Birds

A researcher in the Amazon happened up on the rare sight in the dead of night while looking for reptiles and amphibians

A monarch on tropical milkweed.

New Research

How This Popular Garden Plant May Spread Parasites That Harm Monarchs

Non-native tropical milkweed encourage year-round monarch populations which harbor a deadly parasite for the imperiled insect

What's the Difference Between Moths and Butterflies and More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered

This Butterfly Recently Returned to Scotland. Now, It’s Laying Eggs

The white-letter hairstreak, which is native to the UK, had disappeared from Scotland for more than a century

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