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ALL ABOUT BUTTERFLIES!

Butterfly Calendar
What is a Butterfly? Life Cycle Butterfly Anatomy Information Sheets Glossary Printables and Activities

Butterfly 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-Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.

C



CABBAGE WHITE BUTTERFLY

The cabbage butterfly (or cabbage butterfly), Pieris rapae, is a white butterfly with a black body. The two upper wings have black bands on the upper margins. Each wing has a black spot in its center. It has a 1.3-1.8 inch (3.3-4.6 cm) wing span. This common butterfly is native to in Europe, but has spread to Asia, Australia, and North America (from Canada to Mexico). This white/yellow caterpillar eats cabbage, turnips, radishes, and cress, making this insect an agricultural pest.


CAIRN'S BIRDWING BUTTERFLY

Cairns birdwing (Ornithoptera priamus or Troides euphorion) is the largest butterfly in Australia - it has a wing span up to 17-18 cm across. This large butterfly lives in the canopy of rainforests in North Queensland, Australia. The male is more colorful and smaller than the female. Males have green wings with black markings; females have black wings with white and yellow markings. Both have a bright yellow abdomen and red/black head and thorax - adults sip flower nectar. Eggs are spherical and laid singly on the undersides of leaves (Dutchman's pipe). The sometimes cannibalistic caterpillar is black, has short, fleshy spines with black tips, and a head with a white mark - the host plant is Dutchman's pipe (genus Aristolochia). The pupa is yellow-gray to bright yellow. Classification: Family Papilionidae (swallowtails and birdwings).


CAMOUFLAGE

Camouflage is a coloration and/or pattern that makes an organism blend in with its envirnoment, effectively hiding the organism from predators and/or prey. For example, the Australian leafwing butterfly is shaped and colored like a leaf, and is very difficult to detect when it is standing still. Cryptic coloration is a type of camouflage.


CANOPY

The canopy is the upper parts of the trees of a rainforest (about 65 to 130 feet or 20 to 40 m). This leafy environment is full of life in a tropical rainforest and includes insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, and more.


CARNIVORE

Carnivores are animals that eat flesh. Only a few rare butterflies eat rotting animal flesh.
caterpillar

CATERPILLAR

A caterpillar is the larval stage of butterflies and moths. Caterpillars eat almost constantly and molt many times as they grow.


CELL

A cell is a closed area of an insect wing that is bounded by veins.

CENOZOIC ERA

The "Age of Mammals" (65 million years ago - today), saw the emergence of familiar life forms, humans, the modern look of the continents, and a cooling climate. The Cenozoic followed the Mesozoic Era.

CHALAZA

(pl. chalazae) A chalaza is a raised sclerotized (hardened by scleroproteins) portion of the cuticle of a caterpillar that bears one to four setae (tactile hairs); each seta arises from a separate raised area.

CHARACTER

A character is a inherited trait of an organism. Characters are usually described in terms of a states, for example: "blue eyes" vs. "brown eyes," where "eyes" is the character, and "blue" and "brown" are its states.

CHEVRON

A chevron is a "V" shaped mark.


CHITIN

Chitin is a tough, colorless nitrogenous polysaccharide that is a major component of the hard exoskeleton of insects (and other arthropods).

CHORDATA

Chordates are animals that have a notochord and gill clefts at some point in their life. They have a hollow nerve cord that ends in a brain. Chordates include the vertebrates, cephalochordates (e.g. amphioxus), and urochordates (e.g. sea squirts).

CHORION

The chorion is the hard, protective, outer part of an insect egg.
pupa

CHRYSALIS

The chrysalis (derived from the Greek word for gold) is the pupa of a butterfly.

CLADE

A clade is a group of all the organisms that share a particular common ancestor (and therefore have similar features). The members of a clade are related to each other.

CLADISTICS

Cladistics is a method of classifying organisms based on common ancestry and the branching of the evolutionary family tree. Organisms that share common ancestors (and therefore have similar features) are grouped into taxonomic groups called clades. Cladistics can also be used to predict properties of yet-to-be discovered organisms.

CLADOGRAM

Cladograms are branching diagrams that depict species divergence from common ancestors. They show the distribution and origins of shared characteristics. Cladograms are testable hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships.


CLASPER

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

CLASS

In classification, a class is a group of related or similar organisms. A class contains one or more orders. A group of similar classes forms a phylum.

CLASSIFICATION

The classification of organisms helps in the their study. Cladistics is a method based on common ancestry; the Linnean system is based on a simple hierarchical structure.
Butterfly head

CLUB

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

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

A cocoon is a protective covering, made of silk, which protects a moth pupa (and some other insects). The cocoon is spun from the abdomen of the larva (caterpillar) before it pupates.

COLD BLOODED

Cold blooded (or ectothermic) animals rely upon the temperature and their behavior (like sunning themselves) to regulate their body temperature. Many reptiles are ectothermic.

COMMENSALISM

Commensalism is a situation in which two organisms are associated in a relationship in which one benefits from the relationship and the other is not affected much. The two animals are called commensals. The shark and the pilot fish (and remora) are commensals - the pilot fish benefits much more than the shark. Another example is bromeliads (plants living on trees in rainforests) and frogs; the frogs get shelter and water from the bromeliad but the bromeliad is unaffected. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis.

COMMUNITY

A community is a groups of species (different types of plants and animals) that live in an area. These organisms interact and influence each others survival.


COMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS

Complete metamorphosis is the complete reorganization of the tissues of an animal during its life cycle from larva to adult, usually involving the addition of legs and wings. The larval stage of butterflies and moths (the caterpillar) metamorphoses into a winged, flying adult (the adult butterfly or moth).
Butterfly head

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

Conservation is the wise use of natural resources (plants, animals, minerals, water, etc.) so that they are not damaged and will be in good condition in the future.
Food chain

CONSUMER

A consumer is a living thing that eats other living things to survive. It cannot make its own food (unlike most plants, which are producers). Primary consumers eat producers, secondary consumers eat primary consumers, and so on. There are always many more primary consumers than secondary consumers, etc. Most butterflies are primary consumers (herbivores or plant eaters); only a few, like the Harvester, eat meat.

CONVERGENT EVOLUTION

Convergent evolution (convergence) is when a trait develops independently in two or more groups of organisms. An example of convergence is the wings of Pterodactyls and bats.

COSTA

The costa is the front (anterior) margin of a butterfly or moth's wing - the leading edge of the wing.

COSTAL FOLD

The costal fold is a fold on a male butterfly forewing's leading edge. This fold contains the male's scent scales (the scent scales are also called androconia).
pupa

CREMASTER

A cremaster is a support hook (or a cluster of small hooks) at the abdominal (hind) end of a pupa.

CROCHETS

Crochets are hook-like spines are the end of the prolegs of caterpillars.

CRYPTIC COLORATION

Cryptic coloration is a type of coloration in which an organism matches its background, hiding (camouflaging) it from predators and/or prey (like the peppered moth).

CUTICLE

The cuticle is the outer, non-cellular layer of an insects chitinous exoskeleton.


CYDNO LONGWING

Heliconius cydno, also called the Cydno Longwing, is a butterfly found in tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The host plant is passiflora (passion vine). Classification Family Nymphalidae, Subfamily Heliconiinae (Heliconians, Fritillaries), Genus Heliconius (Longwings), Species H. cydno.
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Butterfly 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-Z

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