Insect Invasion: Butterflies & Moths
All photos are courtesy of Stacey Diaz.
Lepidoptera (lepidoptera/ LEP-I-DOP-tar-a, from Ancient Greek lepis "scale" + pterón "wing") is an order of insects that includes butterflies and moths (both are called lepidopterans). There are about 180,000 species of Lepidoptera. Mostly in the tropics, none in polar regions. Temperatures need to be at least 55°F for flight!
Butterflies and moths play an important role in the natural ecosystem as pollinators and as food in the food chain. A food chain passes energy from one living thing to another living thing.
The wings are covered in scales arranged like shingles; which form an extraordinary variety of colors and patterns & allow for stability. Handling butterflies and moths need to do so carefully as we could rub off the scales from the thin membrane wing.
They have a complete metamorphosis life cycle. Going through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
When they hatch from the egg the larva stage is called a caterpillar. This is a unique name to the lepidopteras as no other insects larva is called this. As they grow the larvae change in appearance, going through а series of stages called instars once fully matured the larva develops into a pupa.
A butterfly pupa, called a chrysalis has
a hard skin usually with no cocoon. Once the pupa has completed its metamorphosis an adult emerges. Some live a very short time, so they must find a mate to lay their eggs as quickly as possible.
Butterflies are diurnal, meaning they fly during the day, unlike many other moths which are nocturnal. They all are cold blooded, meaning they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Many species warm up for flight by sitting in a warm spot or basking in the sun.
Another difference between butterflies and moths is the shapes of their antennas. The antennae of butterflies are usually shaped like clubs, those of the skippers are hooked, while those of moths have enlarged or branched antenna.
Lepidoptera also have olfactory organs on their feet, which aid the butterfly in "tasting". "Smelling" out its food is however with its antennas.
There is a Free Infographic at the bottom of the page with all the facts above!
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Here is the free infographic with the above facts! 🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋