(Singular nouns: Fr-papillon aile; Ger- Schmetterling flügel-?; Nor-sommerfugl vinge-?; Rus- бабочка  кыло-?)

A. Butterfly Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides  Kollar, 1850) (greatest width ~11 cm) at the Butterfly Farm on Aruba of the Netherlands West Indies.  photo by Barbara Bosco - www.bboscodesigns.com)

DESCRIPTION: Phylum, Arthropoda; class, Insecta; order, Lepidoptera:  Butterfly wings consist largely of keratin.  "Butterflies (and moths) are the only group of insects that have [sic] scales covering their wings, although some butterflies have reduced scales"(Anon., nd). 
        It seems unlikely that even small parts of butterfly wings would be confused with other materials used in jewelry or decorative objects so only a few properties are listed here.

   Colors -The colors of butterfly wings are of two types, pigment and structural:  Pigment colors are attributable to specific chemical compounds; 
structural colors are produced as the result of physical phenomena such as iridescence -- see, for example, the fine photograph of the glasswing  (Greta oto (Hewitson, 1854)) in Vane-Wright (2003, p.44).  In most cases, the colors we perceive when we look at butterfly wings represent a combined effect involving pigment and structural colors -- See the quotation given in the third paragraph under the Remarks subheading.
   Luster - dull to subvitreous  
   Breakage - tend to "tear" irregularly
   Miscellaneous - Most wings feel powdery, the "powder" being easily detached scales.

OTHER NAMES: The common or scientific name of the given species of butterfly or moth is often noted.  By the way, although a combination of characteristics serves to distinguish butterflies from moths, a generally applicable criterion is that butterlies fly during daylight hours whereas most moths fly at night.  In any case, the following butterflies are listed as being used as inserts in jewelry and other items available on the market:  "Iridescent Blue Morpho, purple Graphium weiskei (Ribbe, 1900), green Papilio blumei Boisduval, 1836, the  multicolored Sunset Moth, & Red Callicore cynosura (Doubleday, 1847)." (Butterfly Utopia, 2001-2006 with addition of italics and authors of names added by the compiler).

USES: *+*Portions of colorful and/or patterned wings are used as inserts in jewelry (e.g., earrings and pendants) and decorative items such as bookmarks and wall hangings.  Although several of these wall hangings consist of individual or several butterfly specimens mounted in frames, mosaics and "pictures" depicting all sorts of real and imaginary things have also been fashioned from butterfly wings or parts thereof (see Figure B).   The framed wall hangings, as available in the marketplace, are in essence collections -- some are so-to-speak scientifically based whereas others are chiefly decorative in nature.

B. Butterfly wings. Oval (greater axis ~12 cm) earrings featuring iridescent Blue Morpho (Morpho didius  Hopffer, 1874  [ssp.?]) butterfly wing inserts sealed with clear, enamel resins.  Fashioned by Barbara J. Bosco.  photo by Barbara Bosco - www.bboscodesigns.com, courtesy  www.butterflyutopia.com)

C. Butterfly wings. This picture (height -55 cm) was made from butterfly wings  (i.e., no other material, save the "canvas," is used) in Africa, using wings from dead butterflies collected from the ground. (© photo by Paul Caparatta, courtesy  www.butterflyutopia.com)

OCCURRENCES & NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES:   Most butterfly wings used in jewelry and for fashioning decorative items come from so-called butterfly farms in rainforest areas in the tropics and semi-tropics -- e.g., Madagascar, Brazil and Costa Rica.  Werner and Bijok (1970) provide a beautifully illustrated record of some particularly attractive butterflies and moths from widespread localities throughout the world (other than North America), with emphasis on those from Europe; Clench (1975,p.33-42) describes distribution data on the basis of faunal regions, outlined on a map of the world, and also gives a rather detailed map relating the pertinent zones in North America.  Pyle (1981), Scott (1986 -  see especially Figure 44) and Brock & Kaufman (2003) provide coverage for common butterflies of North America;  etc.

REMARKS:  As noted, butterflies belong to the order, Lepidoptera, the designation of which is derived from the Greek λεπις/λεπιδ (scale/scaly) plus πτερα (wing).   The following is given along with the definitions of butterfly in The American Heritage Dictionary (1995): “Is a butterfly named for the color of its excrement or because it was really a thieving witch? The first suggestion rests on the fact that an early Dutch name for the butterfly was boterschijte.  This name is as astonishing a phenomenon as the fact that anyone ever noticed the color of butterfly excrement. Apparently, however, when the butterfly was not busy leaving colorful traces of itself, it was stealing milk and butter. This was not because of its thievish nature but because it was really a mischievous witch in the form of a winged insect. So the second suggestion is that this predilection for butter larceny gave rise to the colorful insect's name.”

Procedures and equipment required for catching, collecting, mounting, raising, .... butterflies are described by, for example, Clench (1975, p.51-72) and Scott (1986, p.507-511) .  Preparation of butterflies, especially their wings, is a rather complicated and tedious process;  step-by-step instructions -- albeit with some unnecessary whimsical(?) asides -- are available in The Insect company (2006).

Features and the nomenclature of butterfly wings are well described and illustrated by Clench (1975, p.13-20).  Several other authors provide much additional information (some of it rather technical) as well as informative
illustrations -- e.g., ninety-seven colored plates depicting butterflies are in the publication by Howe (1975).

Christina Brodie, an artist who has depicted various aspects and parts of butterflies, has recorded the following: “Butterfly wings often exhibit a wonderful range of colouring and patterning, which serves both to deter predators and attract a mate. This colouration is created by many tiny scales which grow from the wing's epidermal cells and overlap each other. ... Scale colour and shape may vary considerably in an individual butterfly species ...Some of the scales are coloured by pigment molecules within the scale cells, such as uric acid (white), carotenoid pigments (yellow, orange), flavonoids such as quercetin (red, purple), and melanin (brown), the natural colour of the cuticle material from which the scale is made up. ... Each pigmented scale produces only one type of pigment to a greater or lesser degree over its entire area, so that wing patterns are created in a manner similar to those in tilework or mosaic. However, the iridescent shades of green, blue, yellow, orange and purple, which may show a metallic or silken lustre, are produced by the quite different mechanism of structural colour. ... [which]  produces colours that are more brilliant and intense than colours achieved by pigmental colours, ... [and such] colour may change according to the angle the scale is viewed from. Scales may possess both pigment-derived and structural colour. [and] The colours can blend to produce a colour intermediate between the two.” (Brodie, 2004, based largely on Anon., 1998).

Though seldom used in fashioned articles, the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758)) is perhaps the most widely known butterfly, at least in the western hemisphere, so is often a good “talking point” whenever butterflies are part of a conversation.  Its yearly migration of some 3500 kilometers, from north eastern and north central North America, and for many of them involving crossing the Gulf of Mexico, to South America, has been recorded and studied for several decades.  According to Pechenik (2005, p.396)  that migration is now thought to be guided by "a time-compensated sun compass."

"Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) found in the latest electronics use specialized crystals and reflectors to shine. [and] Swallowtail butterflies in Africa, scientists in the U.K. recently discovered, have fluorescent patches on their wings that use the same optical mechanisms to flash mating and territorial signals." (Anon. 2006).

Butterfly wings and butterflies imported into the United States, in order to be legal, are required to be cleared by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Seven of the United States of America have butterflies as state symbols of one sort or another:  Alabama - the eastern tiger swallowtail, official mascot and butterfly,  and the monarch butterfly, state insect; Arizona - two-tailed swallow tail, state butterfly; Delaware - tiger swallowtail, state butterfly; Illinois, monarch butterfly, state insect; Maryland - Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, state insect; Mississippi - spicebush swallowtail, state butterfly; New Hampshire - karner blue, state butterfly  (Infoplease, 2000-2006)

SIMULANTS:  None are recorded so far as I know.

REPLICAS: Artificial objects that have butterfly wings or complete butterflies as their motifs range from "Objets d'art" to kitsch.  Most of those considered herein have been produced for adornment and decorative uses, but several also serve other functions.  The materials from which they are made -- see coverage noted in next paragraph -- include abaca (Manila hemp), amber, ceramics (porcelain), cloisonné, diverse fabrics, feathers, glass, metals & alloys (e.g., copper;  lead, as "solder" of glass mosaics;  pewter & silver (including sterling), commonly enameled; and wire, not otherwise identified), nylon, paper, plastic, resin and seashells (only the nacre of some, others whole).  And, as might be expected, several of the "butterflies" consist of more than one of these materials -- e.g., a metal (or alloy) plus gemstones and porcelain plus resin.  In  addition, detailed paintings of butterflies have been produced on such things as glass and canvass.

As a consequence of their shapes -- the wings, in particular, are so thin they are virtually two-dimensional -- most three dimensional representations are too thick to be called replicas whereas, even though the dimensions of paper-thin representations more nearly match those of butterflies, they appear best not to be classified as replicas.  Indeed, the latter "butterflies" seem to fit better into a group that includes such things as butterfly-decorated T-shirts and shower curtains.  This dilemma is met in this publication by the three lists, which follow:  This is an attempt to distinguish what many people would term replicas(1) from items that include printed representations
(3) and both from items that are so-to-speak "in-betweeners"(2). 

            1. bear "bugged by" a butterfly**, clips, jewel boxes, JEWELRY (brooches, pendants), lamps, magnets, mobiles, sculptures, solar lighted butterfly garden decoration** and  stoppers for bottles and wall hangings (with the butterflies frequently identified by common and/or scientific names).

            2. agate slices cut and polished and arranged to resemble butterflies' shapes,
beaded handbags, JEWELRY (necklaces, pendants [some are mosaics], rings), light catchers and music boxes.

backpacks, bathroom sets (mats, towel racks, towels, etc.), Christmas tree decorations, clothes (e.g., pajamas, scarves, T-shirts), cutouts (paper), decalcomaina, dishes (plates, etc.), handbag caddies, patches for screens (doors, etc.), pillow covers, shower curtains, tapestries, tiles and umbrellas.

** These two items warrant further description:  The teddy bear's butterfly, which closely resembles a monarch, hovers next to the bear's nose and flaps its wings to  the tempo of the bear's rendition of "Butterfly kisses" when the bear's paw is squeezed;  the actions and sound are battery powered.  The solar lighted butterfly so-to -speak brightens the day as a consequence of its appearance and glows through the night when its built-up charge is sufficient;  the light is from LED bulbs in the wings that turn on automatically whenever natural light is realtively low.

Replicas of few "distant cousins":  Although I have found no record of the use of  bees, wasps, hornets, etc.(Order Hymenopter) or any of their parts in jewelry or curios, they seem worthy of mention because replicas of them are used rather widely as foci of  jewelry and currios.  Examples of these replicas include the following:  brooches that are sterling silver "bumble bees" the wings of which are filigreed and the eyes and abdomen painted;  jewel boxes -- gold plated caches that resemble bees -- which are much larger than any bee one would want encounter -- with golden filigree wings, enameled areas, red jewel eyes and  diamond simulants here and there on its back;   [and]  pendants on necklaces (with matching earrings) that consist of golden bee replicas in relief atop polished discs of jade, onyx, glass or brass.   
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