• Question: how many types of butterflys are there?

    Asked by Emily W on 15 Jul 2020.
    • Photo: Victoria Burton

      Victoria Burton answered on 15 Jul 2020:


      Worldwide there are around 18,500 known species of butterflies. In the UK there are 59.

    • Photo: Aisling Ryan

      Aisling Ryan answered on 15 Jul 2020:


      Hi Emily! That’s a really great question 🙂 I didn’t know the answer off the top of my head so I just gave it a quick google. Apparently there are about 17,500 species (different types) of butterflies!
      I found this really cool website that lets you read all about different types and see what the look like: https://butterfly-conservation.org/uk-butterflies/a-to-z 🙂
      Did you know that some butterflies are poisonous? In nature poisonous things are generally very brightly coloured or patterned in order to warn others that they are poisonous! Over time some non-poisonous butterflies started to evolve to be colourful so that predators wouldn’t attack them. In other words the non-poisonous butterflies tricked everyone into thinking they were poisonous so that they could survive! Pretty cool 🙂

    • Photo: Gulnar Abdullayeva

      Gulnar Abdullayeva answered on 15 Jul 2020:


      Hi Emily, great question!

      According to Wikipedia, there are 18,500 species of butterflies that are distributed worldwide except Antarctica. The UK has 59 species of butterflies – 57 resident species and two regular migrants – the Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow.

    • Photo: Martin Coath

      Martin Coath answered on 21 Jul 2020: last edited 21 Jul 2020 8:25 am


      A slight extra complication to this question is that the distinction between butterflies and moths is a bit arbitrary. In general there is an agreement about wether to put an particular insect in the ‘butterfly’ class or the ‘moth’ class but there are disagreements and doubtful cases.

      So you *could* make an argument that butterflies and moths are the all part of a continuous ‘order’ of insects (called the Lepidoptera). If you accept this argument it makes the figure a bit different. For the UK (for example) there are around 60-70 types of butterfly but there are over 2000 species of moth 😲

      I do love a good moth hunt – set one up with your friends – it isn’t hard and you can set them all free again after you have had a good chance to see how beautiful they are 😀

Comments