Ehrlich, Paul R. Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Vane-Wright, Richard I. Biogeography and Conservation Laboratory, Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom.
- Developmental Stages
- Homoneurous moths
- Biological Aspects
- Ecology and distribution
- Behavior and physiology
- Evolution and genetics
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The order of scaly-winged insects, including the butterflies, skippers, and moths. One of the largest orders in the class Insecta, the Lepidoptera include over 150,000 known species (of which about 10,000 occur in North America) divided among more than 100 families (Fig. 1). The adults have a covering of hairs and flattened setae (scales) on the wings, legs, and body, and are often beautifully colored. With minor exceptions, the adults are also characterized by two pairs of membranous wings, and sucking mouthparts that feature a prominent coiled proboscis. This feeding apparatus is formed from a pair of specially elongated and grooved lobes, the galeae (a mouthpart), that are closely joined along their length to make a flexible tube. Adults having a proboscis (the vast majority) can take only liquid food, such as nectar and juices of fruits. Butterflies and skippers usually fly in the daytime, while most moths are nocturnal. The caterpillars are almost always herbivorous and chew their food like a grasshopper or beetle. See also: Insecta
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