Animal species have a restricted period during the year when conditions for development are optimal, and this is known as the temporal window. Duration of the temporal window can vary among species, although the causes of variation are still poorly understood. In the present study, examining butterflies, we assume that the temporal window duration is correlated with the seasonal period of flight (termed seasonality). To understand how species characteristics are correlated with this, we examine whether there is a relationship between body size and length of flight period of fruit-feeding butterflies in forest fragments, and whether these two parameters have a phylogenetic signal. Using wing size as a measure of body size and the period of adult flight as a measure of seasonality, we found significant positive correlations between body size and seasonality among subfamilies but not within subfamilies. We also found a clear phylogenetic signal in size but not in seasonality. The results obtained suggest the existence of a trade-off between insect size and seasonality, with size limiting flight period length. The relationship between body size and seasonality and the synchrony with their resources may be one factor explaining the vulnerability of large insects to forest fragmentation. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 104, 820–827.