These flying insects are noted for the often spectacular and colourful patterns on their wings and for their graceful fluttering flight. The name, butterfly, seems to have arisen well over a millennium ago from the myth that fairies, in the guise of these insects, stole butter. The suggestion that the name arose from one of the yellow-winged butterflies, such as the sulfur, is apparently folk etymology, as is the guess that it originated as a spoonerism of flutter by.

About five dozen species of butterflies from various families have been observed in the West Kootenay. Below, is a sampling. Following each common name is the scientific family name, and following that is the number of known species in Montane Cordillera Ecozone in which Kootenay Lake lies. This site shows nowhere near that number.

   swallowtails  (Papilionidae) 10
   whites & sulphurs  (Pieridae) 25
   gossamer–winged  (Lycaenidae) 39
   brush–footed  (Nymphalidae) 70
   skippers  (Hesperidae) 28
   Metalmarks (Riodinidae) 1 (but not seen yet)

Butterfly or Moth  Butterflies and moths are closely related. A distinctive visual difference is their antennae: the butterfly’s are slender with a club-like end; the moth’s are feathery. Butterfly bodies are slender and smooth, while moths are stout and furry. Most butterflies are diurnal and most moths, nocturnal.

Fraser tartan