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How do butterflies adapt to their environment?

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Quick Answer

Some butterflies adapt to their environment by altering their diet and appearance, thereby making themselves less desirable and protecting themselves from predators. Butterflies also adapt to climate changes by shifting habitats.

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Full Answer

Monarch butterflies exist on a diet of milkweed, which contains a poison and causes the butterflies to taste bad to potential predators. Combined with their distinctive colorful markings, which act as a clear warning, this causes predators to pass them by. Monarch butterflies also migrate annually to warmer temperatures to help them survive. Each year, they travel from Canada to the southwest parts of the United States and Mexico.

Other butterfly species are beginning to react to climate changes by shifting their habitat as well, noted by researchers in April of 2014. These species are relocating to higher elevations, which are cooler. Changes in habitat require the butterfly species to identify new host plants and learn to lay their eggs in new locations. The endangered quino checkerspot butterfly has recently undergone this adaptation in southern California. In southern Europe, researchers noted in April of 2012 that butterflies were taking cover from the warming climate by shifting to wooded areas offering cooler temperatures. However, only a small portion of the many species observed adapted to the warmer temperatures in this way.

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