Lepido = scale, ptera = wing
butterflies & moths
larvae - chewing
maxillae modified into long proboscis for siphoning liquids; proboscis curled when not in use
some adults lack functioning mouthparts
2 pr. covered with overlapping modified hairs (=scales) in camouflage (most moths) or bright (many butterflies) colors; some females are flightless.
eggs often finely sculptered
larvae are caterpillars with head capsule, 3 pair of jointed legs and up to 5 pair of fleshy prolegs with specially modified hook-like hairs for movement
pupa, many larvae spin a silken cocoon.
caterpillars are herbivores (some are serious pests); adults are attractive and highly mobile in flight - many frequent flowers (to sip nectar) or water sources (to get salts or minerals).
many crops valuable to humans have 1 or more caterpillar pests that often need control; stored products have major small moth pests; dried and processed plant and animal parts and products have significant moth pests; some caterpillars have stinging hairs; butterflies are well known for their beauty and widely celebrated in art and culture
140,000 species (11,000 in N. America) order reasonably well studied taxonomically
Peters pg. 387-391 plus throughout Peters
Links to other Lepidoptera Sites