Butterflies are Blameless?

Butterflies have attractive colors, are aesthetically pleasing visitors to flower gardens and inspire with their free flight. Adult butterflies have sucking mouthparts and feed on nectar. They do no damage to plants and can be important pollinators. Most people like butterflies and associate them with a good environment.

The caterpillars of butterflies, with a few exceptions, are seldom pests. Most butterfly caterpillars have low population densities and feed on plants with little economic value. Exceptions include the Cabbage White Butterfly, a pest of cabbage and the Giant Swallowtail, whose caterpillars will feed on orange trees and are an occasional pest known a “the orange dog”. Butterflies are associated with good and not bad, precisely why Bart Simpson wants to be reincarnated as a butterfly:

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Art, by jjneal, Environment, Insect Inspired. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Butterflies are Blameless?

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is a funny video of Bart saying “nobody suspects a butterfly.” It is true that when we think of butterflies, we generally think of beautiful, pretty, harmless things.

  2. Michael Haubner says:

    Butterflies are indeed harmless creatures, and it is smart that Bart wants to come back as a butterfly because nobody would suspect them to do any harm. Also, I did not know that caterpillars are pests sometimes depending on what kind of caterpillar they are. I think the main reason why people see them as harmless is because of their different colors.

  3. Brian Swenke says:

    Like Michael, I was also unaware that certain types of caterpillar of butterflies are pests. I always pictured them as harmless insects that were not even capable of do any damage to plants. I definitely agree with Bart when he says no one would suspect butterflies to be harmful creatures. Butterflies are usually seen just fluttering around gardens and minding their own business.

  4. Harry says:

    Sure is a tale of two lives. Caterpillars may be regarded as gross to the common person, but it seems everyone loves butterflies. Interesting how people perceive a species differently at different stages of their lives. Much like humans, adults are perceived differently than children.

  5. Emily says:

    When you think of a butterfly you think of a beautiful harmless creature. You do not think of it as being something harmful. I never knew that they could be considered as “pests”. It is very wise of Bart to think of coming back as a “harmless” creature. That way he would never get caught.

  6. Tommy says:

    I didn’t know that caterpillars were pests and were harmful to cabbage and orange trees. Everyone thinks that these insects are beautiful creatures because when they turn into butterflies, they are colorful and harmless. They actually help pollinate instead of harming. I can understand why Bart wants to be a butterfly because they are known to be beautiful and don’t harm things. But once before they did and not too many people see this.

  7. Meghan says:

    The Butterfly houses at the Indy zoo as well as the Columbian park zoo here in Lafayette are my favorite part about them. I enjoy butterflies because they always look so effortless and peaceful when they fly. Bart’s funny daydream is spot on about nobody suspecting a butterfly to set the school on fire. Super creative!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is a goofy clip but it also has truth to it. Bart says that no one suspects a butterfly and I agree. Many people see butterflies as harmless beautiful creatures. They don’t sting or bite, only fly by gracefully as we enjoy their beautiful colors.

  9. Lily says:

    Above comment by me šŸ™‚ oops

  10. Brandon says:

    This article makes a few good points about the innocent and unassuming nature of the butterfly. It is interesting that, while no butterflies are pests or harmful, their earlier forms can be sometimes destructive and damage plants. Also, I didn’t know that the Giant Swallowtail’s version of the caterpillar is a pest called “orange dog”.

  11. Naomi says:

    When I was younger I thought butterflies were so amazing because they were pretty. Now, I not only think they are pretty, but recognize the grace of a butterfly, and how important they are to our environment.

  12. Jordan says:

    Butterflies used to scare me as a child for some reason. As I grew older I began to appreciate butterflies for their beauty and distinction in nature. This article only furthers my appreciation.

  13. Dustin Ford says:

    Butterflies are harmless to just about anything except people who are afraid of butterflies. It is the caterpillars that are the problem. Where I come from we have serious problems with caterpillars devouring leaves on trees and bushes. They have become so abundant that they end up destroying the habitats of other insects.

  14. Phil W says:

    I really did not know that some caterpillars can be harmful. I had always associated them with being harmless insects that just roamed around and trees and fed on a single leaf or two. This may be partly because I remember reading a children’s book on caterpillars which made them seem harmless.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Bart couldn’t be more true. Butterflies are beautiful creatures and do nothing but help our environment. It is ironic though how caterpillars can damage plants. Honestly, I was never aware of that until reading this article.

  16. Michael says:

    The video and article obviously go hand in hand because it says that butterflies do not damage plants. They can even be important for pollination. Typically there is a good image of butterflies being harmless and is why Bart wants to be one.

  17. Justin Norris says:

    I always knew that butterflies were looked at as a good insect. I never really had any reason to verify that, though. This gave me multiple reasons to reassure my past assumption. And the video was a nice touch that brought it all together and gave it a little more.

  18. Jacob Korb says:

    I, like so many others, had no complaints about butterflies so I think it’s funny how they are just loved insects by most considering the bad reputation the word ‘insects’ get. I did have one scary experience when I was younger though at the butterfly atrium at the Indianapolis Zoo where 3 almost hit me, but still a beautiful exhibit.

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