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Enchanted Learning
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.

M



MALACHITE BUTTERFLY

The malachite butterfly, Siproeta stelenes is a beautiful butterfly from southern North America and northern South America. It's wings are bright green with thick brown margins after emerging from the chrysalis; the color fades within a few days. The undersides of the wings are orange-brown with green spots. The adult has a wingspan of 3 1/4 - 4 inches (8.3 - 10.1 cm). Adults sip rotting fruit and some nectar (especially lantana). The caterpillar is black with black spines and reddish markings; two long horns are one the head. The larval host plants is ruellia (Ruellia coccinea) and the green shrimp plant (Blechum brownei). Classification: Superfamily Papilionoidea, Family Nymphalidae, Genus Siproeta, Species S. stelenes.


MALLOW

Mallow is a plant that some caterpillars (like the Painted Lady, Gray Hairstreak, and the Checkered Skipper) eat. This host plant is often included in butterfly gardens.


MALPIGHIAN TUBULES

Malpighian tubules clean an insect's blood and deposit the waste into the hindgut for eventual excretion.
caterpillar head

MANDIBLES

Mandibles are the jaws of the caterpillar and many other insects. The mandibles bite off plant material and tear it into small, easily digestible pieces. Adult butterflies do not have mandibles.


MAXILLAE

Maxillae are the caterpillar's mouthparts that grasp the food. The maxillae also have taste cells; these chemical detectors tell the caterpillar to eat when the food is appropriate, and not to eat when the food is not appropriate. Caterpillars are very limited in their diet; many species will only eat the leaves of a single type of plant. In the adult stage (butterflies and moths), the maxillae are long, forming the proboscis.


MECONIUM

Meconium is the red fluid that butterflies and moths eject after they leave the chrysalis. Meconium is a metabolic waste product from the pupal stage that is expelled through the anal opening of the adult butterfly. (Note: meconium is not blood.)

METALMARK

Metalmarks are butterflies that belong to the family Riodinidae. These butterflies have small metallic-colored spots adn lines on their wings - tropical species are more brightly colored than species from cooler areas. Metalmarks have long antennae. The forelegs are normal in females, but reduced in the males. Most metalmarks have some type of relationship with ants. Caterpillars are slug-like, short, and often have tubercles with bristles.


METAMORPHIC ROCK

Metamorphic rocks are compacted by pressure and heat from deep inside the earth.


METAMORPHOSIS

Metamorphosis is the transformation of an animal during its life cycle (from larva to adult). The larval stage of butterflies and moths (the caterpillar) metamorphoses into a winged, flying adult (the adult butterfly or moth).Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis.


MICROPYLE

The micropyle is the large depression at the top of a butterfly's egg. This small pit marks where the sperm entered the egg. While the egg is developing, air and water enter the egg through the micropyle.


MIGRATION

Migration is the movement of a large group of an animal species across many miles to avoid adverse conditions. Many butterflies migrate in order to avoid cold weather. Butterfly migration is not well understood. Most migrate relatively short distances (like the Red Admiral and the Common Buckeye), but a few (like the Monarch and the Painted Lady) migrate thousands of miles.


MIAMI BLUE BUTTERFLY

The Miami blue butterfly (Hemiargus thomasi) is a blue butterfly from extreme southern Florida and the West Indies; it lives in hardwood hammocks (in clearings or near the edges). The wings are blue (the female has some black spots and an orange spot at the lower margins of the hindwings); the underside is mottled light brown and white with eyespots. It has a wingspan of 7/8 - 1 1/8 inches (2.2 - 3 cm). The caterpillar eats the flower buds of the balloon vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum) and some other legumes. Adults drink flower nectar. This butterfly has suffered population decreases due to loss of habitat. It was named by Clench in 1941. Classification: Superfamily Papilionoidea, Family Lycaenidae (Blues, Hairstreaks and Coppers), Subfamily Polyommatinae, Genus Hemiargus, Species H. thomasi.


MILBERT'S TORTOISESHELL

Milbert's tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti) is a small butterfly with a squared-off fore-wing. The wingspan is 1.6 - 2.5 inches (4.2 - 6.3 cm). It lives in North America from southern Alaska down to Mexico. Huge batches of eggs (up to 900) are laid on nettles. The caterpillar eats nettles; the adult feeds on flowers (thistles, goldenrods, and lilacs), sap and rotting fruit.

MILKWEED

Milkweed (genus Asclepius) is a common plant that contains toxins. There are more than 100 species of this perennial herb, containing varying concentrations of toxic chemicals (glycosides). Monarchs (and other milkweed butterflies) lay their eggs on milkweed leaves; the caterpillars eat milkweed leaves to incorporate the milkweed toxins into their bodies in order to poison their predators.


MILKWEED BUTTERFLIES

Milkweed butterflies are members of the family Danaidae. As larva, they eat the milkweed plant. Milkweed butterflies include the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), the Queen (Danaus gilippus), and others.
1,000,000

MILLION

A million is a thousand thousand. Butterflies evolved about a hundred million years ago.


MIMETIC GROUP

A mimetic group or ring is a group of unrelated species that have similar markings which benefits all in the group as they gain protection from predators. Many predators may have gotten sick from eating one of the poisonous species and will avoid all similar looking animals in the future. An example of a mimetic group is the pipe-vine swallowtail, the red-spotted purple, and a few other swallowtails.


MIMICRY

Mimicry is when two unrelated species have similar markings. Batesian mimicry is when a non-poisonous species has markings similar to a 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 Viceroy which mimics the poisonous Monarch. Müllerian mimicry is when two poisonous species have similar markings; fewer insects need to be sacrificed in order to teach the predators not to eat these unpalatable animals. An example is the poisonous Queen butterfly which mimics the poisonous Monarch.


MISSION BLUE BUTTERFLY

The mission blue (Icaricia icarioides missionensis) is a small butterfly that lives in coastal scrub of San Francisco and Marin peninsulas (in California, on the western coast of the USA). This butterfly has a wingspan of about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Males are blue with black and white margins (edges); the undersides are gray with dark spots. Females are mostly brown with some blue; the undersides are grayish-brown with dark spots. The host plants of this butterfly are perennial lupines (Lupinus albifrons, L. variicolor, and L. formosus). The mission blue butterfly is an endangered species (listed as endangered in 1976). Classification: superfamily Papilionidiae, family Lycaenidae, genus Icaricia, species I. icarioides, subspecies missionensis.


MOLT

When an animal molts it loses its old skin or exoskeleton and grows a larger one to replace it. Caterpillars molt many times during their development.


MONARCH BUTTERFLY

The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a common poisonous butterfly found worldwide. It eats milkweed in its larval stage and lays eggs on the poisonous milkweed plant. Monarchs have a wingspan of 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches (8.6 - 12.4 cm).


MORPH

A morph is a variety of a species that is easily distinguished For example, there may be two color morphs of a species of butterfly, one of color A and one of color B.


MORPHO BUTTERFLY

Morpho butterflies are a genus of neotropical butterflies, most of whom have iridescent blue wings (the females are are not so brilliantly colored). There are many type of morphos, including the Brazilian Morpho (Morpho aega), Blue Morpho (Morpho menelaus), Common Morpho (Morpho peleides), Cramer's Blue Morpho (Morpho rhetenor), Giant Blue Morpho (Morpho didius, the largest morpho), Mother-of-Pearl Morpho (Morpho laertes, a white morpho), and others. Morphos belong to the Family Nymphalidae, Genus Morpho.


MOTH

Moths are winged insects that belong to the Order Lepidoptera. Moths have feathered antennae (not clubbed antennae like butterflies), a frenulum or jugum, and are generally dull colored. There are over 100,000 moth species alive today.


MOURNING CLOAK BUTTERFLY

(Nymphalis antiopa, Linnaeus 1758) The mourning cloak (also known as Camberwell beauty) is a butterfly with unusual forewing outlines. The dark maroon wings have pale, speckled edges and a dark inner margin with blue spots. Eggs are laid in large clusters on elm, poplar, and willow trees. The caterpillar is black with white spots and has maroon patches on the back. This larva eats the leaves of poplar, elm, salix, and betula. Adults sip fermenting fruit juices, oak sap, and flower nectar. The mourning cloak is found in riparian forests in Europe, North America, and temperate areas in Asia.


MULLERIAN MIMICRY

Müllerian mimicry is when two unrelated poisonous species have similar markings. Since many predators have become sick from eating a poisonous animal, they will avoid any similar looking animals in the future. Fewer insects need to be sacrificed in order to teach the predators not to eat these unpalatable animals. The Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a Müllerian mimic; it is a poisonous butterfly that mimics the poisonous Monarch.

MUTUALISM

Mutualism is an association between two different species of organisms in which both benefit from the association. An example of mutualism is the relationship between bees and the flowers they sip nectar from- the bees get nectar from the flower and the flower gets pollinated by the bees. Mutualism used to be called symbiosis (symbiosis is now a more general term).
1,000,000

MYA
"mya" stands for millions of years ago.
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Butterfly Glossary
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