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Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.

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These scales give butterfly wings their colour: they are pigmented with melanins that give them blacks and browns, as well as uric acid derivatives and flavones that give them yellows, but many of the blues, greens, reds and iridescent colours are created by structural coloration produced by the micro-structures of the scales and hairs.

As in all insects, the body is divided into three sections: the head, thorax, and abdomen.

Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; other species are agents of pollination of some plants.

Larvae of a few butterflies (e.g., harvesters) eat harmful insects, and a few are predators of ants, while others live as mutualists in association with ants.

The eastern North American population of monarchs can travel thousands of miles south-west to overwintering sites in Mexico. It has recently been shown that the British painted lady undertakes a 9,000-mile round trip in a series of steps by up to six successive generations, from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle — almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by monarch.

Butterflies navigate using a time-compensated sun compass.

Some day-flying moths, such as the hummingbird hawk-moth, Butterfly larvae, caterpillars, have a hard (sclerotised) head with strong mandibles used for cutting their food, most often leaves.

They have cylindrical bodies, with ten segments to the abdomen, generally with short prolegs on segments 3–6 and 10; the three pairs of true legs on the thorax have five segments each.

Many are well camouflaged; others are aposematic with bright colours and bristly projections containing toxic chemicals obtained from their food plants.

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