Butterfly Glossary

butterfly glossaryEver wonder what a chitin is? There are many interesting terms when it comes to butterflies and caterpillars! Read on to become an expert in lepidopteran anatomy!

Aestivation
Dormancy during hot, dry periods
Anal Fold
Portion of the hind wing that folds against the abdomen when at rest
Androconium
Specialized scale that produces pheromones
Annual
A plant that lives one year only
Antennae
Sensory appendages (feelers) on apex of butterfly's head
Brood
A generation of young from a common female
Camouflage
Animal disguise; how animals hide by blending with their background
Caterpillar
Also called "larva" (pl. larvae), the second stage of a butterfly's life
Cell
Area of wing encircled by veins
Chitin
The liquid produced by the insect's body which hardens to form the exoskeleton, the chrysalis, and the wing membrance
Chrysalis
The resting stage of a butterfly between the larval and adult stages
Claspers
Appendages at the end of the abdomen of males to secure the female during mating
Cline
Slight change in physical appearance from one geographical region to another
Cocoon
The resting stage of a moth between larva and adult
Compound Eye
An eye made up of many light-sensitive facets
Conservation
The official care and protection of natural resources
Control
To test or verify a scientific experiment by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison
Costa
Upper edge of wings
Cremaster
Hook-bearing structure which attaches the pupa to a twig when becoming a chrysalis
Crochets
Tiny hooks on prolegs of caterpillars
Diapause
Period of inactivity caused by environmental factors
Dimorphism
The presence of two distinct forms within a species
Disk
Central portion of the wing
Dormant
In a sleeping position; state of minimal activity
Dorsal
Upper side of the wing
Drought
Dry weather, lack of rain
Emigrate
To leave an area, not to return
Endemic
Limited to a specific geographic area
Entomologist
Someone who studies insects
Evaporation
To give off moisture
Exoskeleton
Hard external shell covering the pupa or adult
Experiment
Trial or test procedure to discover something unknown
Frass
Caterpillar poop
Frenate
Bristles on hind wing that lock into hairs of forewing
Germination
The first act of growth of an embryo plant
Girdle
Silken harness spun by some caterpillars to suspend itself from a vertical surface
Gynandromorph
Having both male and female characteristics
Habitat
The natural home of an animal or plant
Hair Pencil
Cluster of hairlike scale utilized during courtship
Hemolymph
Body fluids of lepidoptera (butterfly blood)
Host Plant
Larval food plant
Instar
Period between molts (shedding of old exoskeleton)
Larva
The caterpillar stage of a butterfly's life; the young stage of an insect
Lens
One part of an insect's eye which focuses light
Lepidoptera
Order of insects in which butterflies and moths are classified; the meaning is "scaled wings"
Lepidopterist
A person who studies butterflies and moths
Life Cycle
The stages of an animal's life from birth to death
Lipid
Fats internally retained for fuel during migratory flights
Lunule
Crescent-shaped spot on wing
Margin
Edge of the wing
Mate
To come together to produce young
Metamorphosis
Process of changing from larva to adult
Migration
Movement of animals at different times of the year, usually for breeding or over-wintering
Mimicry
Imitating a harmful insect or plant to escape predators
Molt
Shedding of old exoskeleton to allow a new period of growth
Nectar
Liquid produced by plants that is ingested by butterflies and some moths
Ocelli
Cosmetic eyespots used for protection or the simple eyes of caterpillars
Oviposit
To lay eggs
Ovipositor
Structure at tip of female abdomen which deposits eggs
Osmeterium
Fleshy organ that can be extended from behind the head by swallowtail caterpillars that emits an unfavorable odor to fend off predators
Palpi
Pair of furry facial appendages to clean and protect the proboscis
Perennial
Blossoming annually; continuous, undying
Pesticides
Chemicals used to poison insects or other pests
Pheromones
Scent produced to initiate sexual activity
Pollination
The moving of pollen from the male to the female parts of a flower
Polymorphism
Several forms occurring within the same species
Predators
Animals that kill and eat others
Preserve
(Ecological) - to keep safe from injury or destruction
Proboscis
Long, slender sucking tube used for feeding
Pupa
The resting form before emerging as an adult
Pupate
The act of becoming a pupa (change from a caterpillar to a chrysalis)
Race
Subspecies; a distinctive population
Roost
Gathering spot to spend the night or the winter
Scales
The millions of modified hairs forming shingle-like plates covering moths' and butterflies' wings
Sex Patch
Pad of scent scales on wings
Shelter
Place, home, or dwelling to be safe from the elements
Spiracles
Breathing holes positioned along the abdomen
Spinneret
Gland beneath the caterpillar's head used for producing silk
Stigma
Very defined scent scale patch on the wing of many males
Subspecies
Distinct group which is still able to breed with other members of the species
Tarsus
Hooks at the terminal end of feet to allow climbing
Territory
Piece of land an animal defends against outsiders
Translucent
Semi-transparent; admitting light
Tubercle
Raised knob often covered with spines
Uncus
Hook-shaped projections at the tip of the male abdomen used for securing the female during mating
Valvae
The vise-like uncus
Venation
Arrangements of veins through the wings
Ventral
Underside
Wings
The butterfly appendages of flight

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