Butterfly and Moth Terminology

Below are some of the words associated with butterflies and moths during their entire life cycle.

Camouflaged is concealment by means of disguise – behaviour or an expedient designed to deceive or hide.

Metamorphosis is a marked and more or less abrupt change in the form or structure of an animal occurring subsequent to birth or hatching. Butterfly and moth eggs metamorphosis (develop) into butterflies and moths.

Caterpillar/Larva This is the name given to any larva which has a cylindrically shaped body, a distinct head and a number of both fleshy and jointed legs. This is the stage of development of an insect between egg and pupa, a caterpillar. It is the immature, wingless, and often vermiform (worm-shaped) feeding form that hatches from the egg of many insects. It alters chiefly in size while passing through several molts, and is finally transformed into a pupa or chrysalis from which the adult emerges. Because the caterpillar’s skin does not grow along with it, it periodically sheds the skin as it becomes too tight. Most caterpillars molt five times before entering into the pupa stage.

Chrysalis This name was originally given to the pupa of a butterfly.  It is now used for pupae of moths and other insects as well.  Chrysalis is the pupa of a butterfly that passes the pupal stage in a resting condition enclosed in a firm case. Caterpillars shed their final skin which is the pupa. It is this outer skin that hardens to form a chrysalis which protects and hides the transformation that is occurring inside.

Cocoon This is the silken tent that many caterpillars and some other larvae spin round themselves before turning into pupae.  The cocoon is an envelope often largely of silk which an insect larvae forms about itself and in which it passes the pupa stage. The pupal case is commonly called a cocoon. Butterflies do not spin cocoons. Moths spin cocoons of silken threads, often using leaves to help surround them.

Entomologist is a branch of zoology that deals with insects.

Insects are any of a class of arthropods (as bugs or bees) with well defined head, thorax and abdomen, only three pairs of legs, and typically one or two pairs of wings.

Lanceolate is where the wings of an insect taper to a point at the apex and sometimes at the base.

Larva/Caterpillar is the stage of development of an insect between egg and pupa, a caterpillar. It is the immature, wingless, and often vermiform (worm-shaped) feeding form that hatches from the egg of many insects. It alters chiefly in size while passing through several molts, and is finally transformed into a pupa or chrysalis from which the adult emerges. Because the caterpillar’s skin does not grow along with it, it periodically sheds the skin as it becomes too tight. Most caterpillars molt five times before entering into the pupa stage.

Lepidoptera which means 'scaled wings' is any of a large order of insects comprising the butterflies and moths.

Pollinate is to place pollen on the stigma or to mark or smudge with pollen.

Proboscis is the mouthparts of most adults consist of a long coiled tube which is known as the proboscis. The proboscis is used for drinking liquids such as nectar, tree sap and water. Their taste sensors are located in their feet and by standing on their food they can taste it. Butterflies and moths do not have mouths for biting or chewing, therefore they do not eat solid food.

Pupa is a metamorphic insect in an intermediate (usually resting) form assumed between the larval and the imaginal stages and characterized by internal dedifferentiation of larva structures and their replacement by structures typical of the imago. The pupae can take on a wide variety of shapes, sizes and color. Some hang from beneath leaves or twigs and others are attached to the side of a stem; some are smooth and shiny or rough and spiky. But the primary function is to lessen the chances of being eaten and to produce an adult butterfly or moth.

Thorax is the middle part of an insect's body where it's wings are attached. Large butterflies flap their wings once or twice each second.

Transparent is to see through or to easily seen through the wings of some butterflies.

Zoology is a science that deals with animals and is the branch of biology concerned with the animal kingdom and its members as individuals and classes and with animal life.