Order Lepidoptera: The Butterfly, Moth, Skippers

Butterflies belong to the group of insects called the Lepidoptera. Butterflies often have big, brightly colored wings and fly in a very quiet manner.

Life Cycle

As adults, butterflies may live either from one week or up to a year, depending on the type. A lot of the species have long growth stages, sometimes to survive the harsh winters, prolonging their life cycle.

Butterflies may reproduce one or more times a year. The eggs are protected by a hard outer layer shell that’s called the chorion. It is lined with a coating of wax so it doesn’t dry out before it matures to a full adult. Each egg contains funnel shaped opening at the end to allow sperm to enter and conjoin with the egg. The eggs may vary in size depending on the species and whether it is a moth or butterfly.

Butterfly eggs are often stuck to a leaf or branch using a special glue to keep them in one place as they begin to hatch. The glue will harden very quickly. As it hardens, it gets smaller, and it changes the shape of the egg. The glue is very clear and transparent; the same glue is used to secure the baby butterfly and its offspring. The glue is so hard that it can be separated from the leaf or branch often.

When the butterflies are adolescents, they are known as the insect caterpillars. The caterpillar’s main goal is to fatten itself up with plant leaves and other forms of food before it becomes a butterfly. Although most caterpillars only eat leaves, select few will eat other bugs. The caterpillars that turn into butterflies have 6 pairs of small legs and three pairs of bigger legs. Caterpillars come in all shapes and sizes, with eye spots that make them look or menacing or the ability to make themselves look bigger than they actually are. A few caterpillars even have the ability to produce foul smelling odors in order to ward off predators.

What are moths?

What are Moths?

Moths are butterfly’s cousin that is not as pretty or fast as its relation. Moths and Butterflies are part of the order Lepidoptera. There are 160,000 species of moths found around the world, whereas there are only 17,500 butterflies. In the United States alone, there are about 11,000 species of moths as well.

Distinctive characteristics

Moths and their close relation the beautiful Butterfly are the only group of insects that exhibit scales covering their wings. They also differ in their ability to roll up their feeding tube. One way to tell the difference between Moths and Butterflies are that butterflies have an antennae that is almost club-sapped, while Moths tend to have antennae’s that are threadlike or feathery.

General statements

Moths have mostly very dull colors on their wings, but there are select species with beautiful colors and patterns. There are certain Moths with a vast array of large wings, notably with long tails or hind wings or a combination of both. One of the moth’s species being the Tomato Hornworm Moth, is noticed in its caterpillar stage as it devours tomato leafs in the garden. Moths are also characterized by flying as night to gain nectar from flowers. Although, during the day, many them that fly at this time are brightly colored. The insect that is often considered the most beautiful is the Sunset Moth from Madagascar.


Caterpillars are given its name to due to the fact they are the larvae of baby-like form of the moth and butterfly. They are distinctive from their adult flying counterparts. Caterpillars eat plants in an almost glutton-like manner, where they transform the plant material into much needed tissue when they go under metamorphosis

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