A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths.
Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). All the many other families within the Lepidoptera are referred to as moths.
The earliest known butterfly fossils date to the mid Eocene epoch, between 40–50 million years ago.