How to Tell the Gender of a Butterfly


The butterfly is a flying insect that starts as a caterpillar and goes through the process of metamorphosis to become a butterfly. There are about 24,000 different species of butterfly, ranging in size from 1/8 inch to 12 inches. They intake liquids such as nectar and water for sustenance through a a long straw-like instrument called a proboscis. They can also taste with their feet to determine if a plant is an appropriate place to lay their eggs. Depending on the type of butterfly, there are a couple of different ways to determine gender.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Look at the wings of the butterfly. On some species of butterflies, the males will have a different color pattern on the dorsal, or upper, wing surfaces than the females. The male of the blue species of butterfly has a bright blue dorsal wing pattern while the female has more brown. The black webbing on the dorsal wings of the monarch butterfly is thinner on the male than on the female.

  • Notice the behavior of the butterfly. If the butterfly is perched on a plant and not flying away very often, that indicates a male butterfly. Males use this time perched to search for females. The female butterfly spends most of her time flying, searching for a safe place to lay her eggs.

  • Capture a butterfly. Use a magnifying glass to check the abdomen of the butterfly. Females tend to have rounder abdomens than the males and also will have holes in the abdomen for laying eggs. Males will usually have a slit at the tip of their abdomen.

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