Butterflies and Moths of Sri Lanka
 

Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

ABERRATION
A genetic or environmentally produced variation on the usual form of the species. For example very cold conditions can produce very dark forms of some butterfly species.

ABDOMEN
The abdomen is the segmented tail area of an insect (including butterflies and moths). An insect's abdomen contains its heart, Malpighian tubules, reproductive organs, and most of the digestive system (foregut, hindgut and rectum). It is protected by an exoskeleton. The abdomen of butterflies and moths have eleven segments (the terminal 2 or 3 segments are fused together).

AESTIVATION
Dormancy during hot, dry periods. Especially prevalent in very hot dry regions.

ANAL FOLD
Portion of the hind wing that folds against the abdomen when at rest

ANDROCONIA
Scales occuring in males and often grouped in patches to form 'sex-brands'.

ANDROCONIUM
Specialised scales that produces pheromones.

ANNUAL
A plant that lives one year only

ANTENNA
Antenna (plural is antennae) are sensory appendages attached to the head of some adult insects. Antennae are used for the sense of smell and balance. Butterflies have two segmented antennae with a small club at the end of each. Moths have antennae without the club. Larvae (caterpillars) have tiny sensory antennae.

ANTERIOR
Towards the front (head) of the Butterfly.

APOSEMATIC COLORATION
Aposematic coloration (or warning coloration) is the bright, attention-getting coloration that protects an organism from experienced predators (i.e., predators who have previously eaten a similar-looking animal and have gotten sick from it). Both poisonous organisms (like the Monarch butterfly) and its mimics (poisonous or not) are said to have aposematic coloration.

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B

BASAL
Towards the base of the wing.

BASKING
Basking in the sun is an activity butterflies do when their body temperature becomes too low (between 85-100&#deg; F); when they are too cold, butterflies cannot fly. They sun themselves with outstretched wings in order to absorb as much heat as possible.

BATESIAN MIMICRY
Batesian mimicry is when a non-poisonous species has markings similar to a non-related poisonous species and gains protection from this similarity. Since many predators have become sick from eating a poisonous animal, they will avoid any similar looking animals in the future. An example is the nonpoisonous Viceroy which mimics the poisonous Monarch (as it turns out, though, the Viceroy is also distasteful, so it is a Mullerian mimic). Henry Walter Bates defined this type of mimicry in 1861.

BIVOLTINE
Having two broods.

BROOD
A generation of young from a common female.

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C

CAMOUFLAGE
Animal disguise; how animals hide by blending with their background

CATERPILLAR
A caterpillar is the larval stage of butterflies and moths. Caterpillars eat almost constantly and molt many times as they grow. Also called "larva" (pl. larvae), the second stage of a butterfly's life.

CELL
Centre of the wing, an 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 chrysalis (derived from the Greek word for gold) is the pupa of a butterfly. It's the resting stage of a butterfly between the larval and adult stages.

CLASPER
Claspers are appendages on the rear segment of the male butterfly or moth abdomen. Claspers hold onto the female's abdomen during mating.

CLINE
Slight change in physical appearance from one geographical region to another.

CLUB
A club is the thickened end of a butterfly's antenna.

CLYPEUS
The clypeus is the hard plate on the top of an of insect's head (part of its exoskeleton). The butterfly's labrum (upper lip) is at the bottom edge of the clypeus.

COCOON
The resting stage of a moth between larva and adult.

COMPOUND EYE
Insects (like butterflies and moths) have compound eyes. These eyes are made up of many hexagonal lens/corneas which focus light from each part of the insect's field of view onto a rhabdome (the equivalent of our retina). An optic nerve then carries this information to the insect's brain. They see very differently from us; they can see ultraviolet rays (which are invisible to us).

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.

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D

DIAPAUSE
Diapause is a period of suspended growth or development in the life of some insects, mites, snails and crustaceans. Butterflies and moths enter diapause when the weather is too severe or food or water is unavailable.

DISK
Central portion of the wing.

DISTAL
The furthest point from the body.

DIMORPHISM
Two different forms of the same species. Can be concurrent of seasonal forms.

DORMANT
In a sleeping position; state of minimal activity

DORSAL
The upper part of the body or wing.

DROUGHT
Dry weather, lack of rain

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E

EGG
Butterflies and moths hatch from eggs. Butterflies usually lay their eggs on leaves. They are oviparous.

EMIGRATE
To leave an area, not to return.

ENDEMIC
Restricted to a particular region or 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.

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F

FACET
A facet is one of the hexagonal units of the compound eye - the surface of a single ommatidium.

FOREWINGS
Forewings are the two upper wings of flying insects, like butterflies and moths.

FRASS
Caterpillar poop.

FRENATE
Bristles on hind wing that lock into hairs of forewing.

FRONS
The 'face'. Area between the eyes of a butterfly.

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G

GERMINATION
The first act of growth of an embryo plant.

GIRDLE
Silken harness spun by some caterpillars to suspend itself from a vertical surface.

GYANDROMORPH
Having both female and male characteristics. Various types.

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H

HABITAT
The natural home of an animal or plant.

HAIR PENCIL
Cluster of hairlike scale utilized during courtship.

HEAD
The head of an insect is the location of its brain, two compound eyes, its proboscis, pharynx (the start of the digestive system), the point of attachment of its two antennae, etc.

HEMOLYMPH
Body fluids of lepidoptera (butterfly blood)

HIBERNATION
Hibernation (also called overwintering) is a condition in which an animal is dormant for a period of time usually during the Winter or a cold period.

HOST PLANT
A host plant is a plant upon which an insect lays its eggs. Butterflies and moths have very specific host plants. A few species can vary their host plant with season and geography. The host plant of the Monarch butterfly is milkweed (genus Asclepius). When the larvae hatch, they eat the leaves of the host plant.

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I

IMAGO
The imago is the adult stage of an insect (like a butterfly or moth) during which the insect reproduces.

INSECTS
Insects (meaning "segmented" in Latin) have exoskeletons and six legs. They evolved during the Silurian Period, 438 to 408 mya, long before dinosaurs existed. Butterflies and moths are insects.

INSTAR
A stage of larval development. It's the period between molts (shedding of old exoskeleton).

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J

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K

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L

LABIAL PALPS
Labial palps are the mustache-like scaly mouthparts of adult butterflies that are on each side of the proboscis. These palps are covered with sensory hairs and scales, and test whether something is food or not.

LABIUM
The labium is the lower "lip" of insects (like butterflies and moths). It is below the butterfly's proboscis.

LARVA
(plural is larvae) The larva of butterflies is called the caterpillar and is the second stage of the life cycle of the butterfly.

LEGS
Butterflies and moth, like other insects, have six legs in their adult stage. These three pairs of legs are attached to the thorax, one pair in each segment of the thorax.

LENS
One part of an insect's eye which focuses light.

LEPIDOPTERA
Lepidoptera (meaning "scale wing") is an order of insects that is characterized by having four large, scaly wings and a spiral proboscis. Butterflies and moths belong to the order Lepidoptera. There are about 150,000 named species of butterflies and moth (over 87% are moths).

LEPIDOPTERIST
A person who studies butterflies and moths.

LIFE CYCLE
The stages of an animal's or insects life from birth to death. Butterflies go through four different life cycle stages: the egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult.

LIPID
Fats internally retained for fuel during migratory flights.

LUNULE
Crescent-shaped spot on wing.

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M

MACULAR
A spotted part of the butterfly.

MARGIN
Edge of the wing.

MARGINAL
The outer edges of the wings.

MATE
To come together to produce young.

METAMORPHOSIS
The change of stage in the life of a butterfly. The process of changing from larva to adult.

MIGRATION
Movement of animals at different times of the year, usually for breeding or over-wintering.

MIMICRY
Where one species takes on the characteristics of another in order to gain some advantage, for example to ward of predators by taking on the colouration of a poisonous species.

MOLT
Shedding of old exoskeleton to allow a new period of growth.

MONOPHAGOUS
A species which only uses one species as a hostplant.

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N

NECTAR
Nectar is the sweet liquid produced by many flowers. Adult butterflies sip nectar through their proboscis.

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O

OCELLI
Plural - Ocellus. Cosmetic eyespots used for protection or the simple eyes of caterpillars.

OLIGOPHAGOUS
A species which uses several closely related hostplants.

OSMETERIUM
Fleshy organ that can be extended from behind the head by swallowtail caterpillars that emits an unfavorable odor to fend off predators.

OVERWINTERING
Overwintering (also called hibernation) is a condition in which an animal is dormant for period of time. Some butterflies and moths overwinter during cold weather.

OVIPOSIT
To lay eggs.

OVIPOSITOR
The structure a female has for laying eggs at tip of abdomen.

OVUM
Egg

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P

PALPI
Pair of furry facial appendages to clean and protect the proboscis.

PALPS
Palps are the mustache-like scaly mouthparts of adult butterflies that are on each side of the proboscis. These jointed palps are covered with sensory hairs and scales. The palps test whether something is food or not.

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
The occurrence of many forms of the same species.

POLYPHAGOUS
A species which uses hostplants from different genera.

POLYVOLTINE
Having many broods each season.

POSTDISCAL
A wing area, see diagram.

POSTERIOR
Towards the end of the butterfly.

PREDATORS
Animals that kill and eat others.

PRESERVE
(Ecological) - to keep safe from injury or destruction.

PROBOSCIS
The feeding tube of a butterfly. The proboscis is a a tube-like, flexible "tongue" that butterflies and moths use to sip their liquid food (usually flower nectar or the liquid from rotting fruits). The proboscis uncoils to sip food, and coils up again into a spiral when not in use. It consists of two halves which are joined together.

PUDDLING
When a butterfly lands on the ground and sips water from a puddle, it is called puddling. At the muddy or sandy puddle (often located near animal dung), the butterfly sips water rich in mineral salts and other essential nutrients (mostly sodium chloride and nitrogen-rich solutions) that have leached from the surrounding soil and rocks. Male butterflies do more puddling than females. The dissolved salts and minerals may be used to make pheromones (that the male uses to attract females) and sperm.

PUPA
The pupa is the third stage in a butterfly's (or moth's) life when it is encased in a chrysalis and undergoing metamorphosis. It does not eat during this stage. It is outwardly inactive, but a lot is going on inside; the caterpillar is changing into a butterfly. The pupa stage lasts from a few days to many months (some butterflies overwinter in the pupa stage, and the adult emerges in the spring).

PUPATE
The act of becoming a pupa (change from a caterpillar to a chrysalis)

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Q

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R

ROOST
Gathering spot to spend the night or the winter

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S

SCALES
Scales are tiny overlapping pieces of chitin on a butterfly or moth wing. The scales are outgrowths of the body wall and are modified setae (hairs).

SCAPE
The scape is the base of an insect's antenna.

SCENT SCALES
Scent scales are modified wing scales on butterflies and moths that release pheromones. Only males have scent scales. The pheromones attract females of that species. Scent scales are also called androconia.

SEGMENTS
Segments are the natural sections that insects' bodies are divided into. The abdomen of butterflies and moths have eleven segments (the terminal 2 or 3 segments are fused together).

SEX PATCH
Pad of scent scales on wings.

SHELTER
Place, home, or dwelling to be safe from the elements.

SIMPLE EYE
A simple eye is an ocellus. Butterfly and moth larvae have simple eyes only; adults have simple eyes plus compound eyes.

SPINNERET
Gland beneath the caterpillar's head used for producing silk.

SPIRACLES
Breathing holes positioned along the abdomen.

STIGMA
Very defined scent scale patch on the wing of many males.

SUBMARGINAL
A part of the wing area.

SUBSPECIES
Distinct group which is still able to breed with other members of the species.

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T

TACTILE SETAE
Tactile setae are long hairs that butterflies and moths use to sense touch. These hairs are attached to nerve cells, and relay information about touch to the insect's brain. Setae grow through holes in the hard, chitinous exoskeleton.

TARSUS
The tarsus (plural tarsi) is the last segment of a butterfly's (or a moth's) leg. The tarsus has gripping claws and has taste organs, so the insect can grip a flower and determine if it contains a sweet nectar to drink or to allow climbing.

TERRITORY
Piece of land an animal defends against outsiders.

THORAX
The middle section of the body. The thorax is the chest area of an insect (including butterflies and moths). The thorax is divided into three segments; on each segment is a pair of legs. The four wings of the butterfly (or moth) are also attached to the thorax. The thorax contains the muscles that make the legs and wings move.

TRAP LINING
Trap lining is a butterfly behavior in which a butterfly hunts for nectar sources (usually flowers) on a set route every day.

TUBERCLE
Raised knob often covered with spines.

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U

UNCUS
The uncus is the hook-shaped, downward-pointing end of the vein on the wing of male butterflies and moths. Often used for securing the female during mating

UNIVOLTINE
Having one brood per season.

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V

VALVAE
The vise-like uncus.

VEINS
Veins are the rib-like tubes in insect wings (including butterflies and moths) that support the wings and bring nourishment to them.

VENATION
Venation is the vein pattern in the wings of butterflies and moths.

VENTRAL
Underside.

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W

WINGS
Butterflies and moths have four wings. The wings are made of two chitonous layers (membranes) that are nourished and supported by tubular veins.

WINGSPAN
Wingspan is the distance measured across a butterfly's (or moth's) wings.

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Copyright © 2006-2009 - Designed, Developed, Photographed and written by Tharanga Aluthwattha