When it rains butterflies settle on the stems of flowers or stalks of grass. They hang head downwards with their wings folded together over their backs. Most butterflies are difficult to see when their wings are closed, because the undersides have only pale colors and faint patterns.
There about 10,000 known species of butterflies. The range in size from less than an inch to the swallow tails which lives in north Australia and the Pacific Islands and have a wing span of 10 inches. Most female butterflies have less colorful wings than the males of the same species. They lay between 100 and 3,000 eggs, according to the species, placing them on a plant which will provide suitable food for the caterpillars which develop from the eggs.
The caterpillar becomes a chrysalis from which, eventually the fully grown butterfly emerges. Adult life may last for only a few weeks, but some butterflies hibernate.
Butterflies feed on the nectar of plants and on sweet juices, particularly those of over-ripe or rotting fruit. This food provides them with the energy to fly but is not used for body building. All growth takes place at the caterpillar stage of a butterfly's life.