A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. Like all Lepidoptera, butterflies are notable for their unusual life cycle with a larval caterpillar stage, an inactive pupal stage, and a spectacular metamorphosis into a familiar and colourful winged adult form. Most species are day-flying so they regularly attract attention. The diverse patterns formed by their brightly coloured wings and their erratic yet graceful flight have made butterfly watching a hobby.
Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Some migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Butterflies are important economically as agents of pollination. In addition, a few species are pests, because they can damage domestic crops and trees in their larval stage.
Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.