Why do butterflies live such short lives?

We only get to enjoy butterflies for a few months a year – but why?

The butterfly with the longest lifespan is the monarch butterfly, which usually lives up to eight weeks, although the last generation to
be born each year will migrate to warmer climes and live for up to eight months. There are some butterflies that only live for days or weeks at a time.

Their short life is due in part to climate. Butterflies can’t withstand great fluctuations in temperature, and so they hatch when the conditions are best. Eggs need to be laid at an optimum time in order to ensure the species hatches in the best conditions, so the butterfly is alive for just long enough to reproduce while the climate is favourable.

Cover photo – Jdmoar/flickr