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ALL ABOUT BUTTERFLIES!

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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.

S



SATURN BUTTERFLY

The Saturn Butterfly (Zeuxidia amethystus) has a wingspan of about 3.9-4.3 inches (10-11cm) and lives in the shady forest understory. The female is paler than the male (above). The Saturn Butterfly is found in Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, Burma, and Sumatra. It was named by Butler in 1865. Classification: Family Nymphalidae (Subfamily Morphinae).

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).
Butterfly head

SCAPE

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

SCAT

Scat means animal waste or droppings.

SCAT

Scat means animal waste or droppings.

SCAVENGER

Scavengers are animals that eat dead animals that they did not kill themselves. Most meat-eaters are scavengers. Hyenas are modern-day scavengers. A few butterflies are scavengers, and eat the rotting flesh of dead animals.

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.

SCLERITE

Sclerites are the individual chitinous plates which make up the exoskeleton of insects (including butterflies and moths).

SEDIMENT

Sediment is any material deposited by wind or water, like rocks and sand.

SEDIMENTARY ROCK

Sedimentary rock is rock that has formed from sediment. Most fossils are found sedimentary rock.


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).
caterpillar head

SETAE

(singular seta) 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 pinaculum of the exoskeleton.

SEXUAL DIMORPHISM

Sexual dimorphism is the physical differences between the males and females of a species. Frequently, the male and female butterflies are distinguished by vein width and other characteristics.


SILK GIRDLE

The girdle is a silken thread that a caterpillar wraps around its body as a support, attaching the larva to a twig or leaf as it is about to enter the pupa stage.
Silkworm

SILKWORM

The silkworm (Bombyx mori) is the caterpillar of a moth whose cocoon is used to make silk - it is not a worm. The caterpillar feeds on mulberry leaves (Morus alba) until it is 2 3/4 inches long. It forms a silk cocoon (containing a single silk thread about 300 to 900 meters) around its hard brown pupa. The adult moth that emerges in three weeks cannot fly; it reproduces and dies within about five days (a female lays from 200 to 500 lemon-yellow eggs that eventually turn black). The Chinese have harvested silk from silkworms for thousands of years; the silkworm has been domesticated to the point where it can no longer survive in the wild. This insect is also called the silkworm-moth and the mulberry silkworm. It is native to Northern China. Classification: Class Insecta (insects), Order Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Suborder Ditrysia (Moths, Butterflies, Skippers), Superfamily Bombycoidea, Family Bombycidae, Genus Bombyx, Species B. mori.

SILVER HAIRSTREAK BUTTERFLY

The silver hairstreak butterfly (Neozephyrus syla) is a butterfly native to Afghanistan and NW India. Like all hairstreaks, it has spots that look like a head on its hind wings. Birds peck at this "head", and leave the real head alone. The silver hairstreak was named by Kollar in 1844. Classification: Suborder Rhopalocera, Superfamily Papilionoidea, Family Lycaenidae, Genus Neozephyrus, Species syla.

SIMPLE EYE

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


SKELETON

A skeleton is the supporting structure of an animal's body. Butterflies and moths (and other insects) do not have an internal skeleton; they have an exoskeleton.

SKIPPER

Skippers (family Hesperiidae) are drab-colored, moth-like butterflies that are distinguished by the hook at the end of their antennae (instead of a club, like other butterflies have). These antennae are also farther apart at the base than other butterflies. There are about 2,00 different species of Skippers. They fly in a darting fashion (hence their name) and hold their wings in a moth-like fashion when at rest. The Australian Skipper also has a humeral lobe (a frenulum-like projection on its hindwing which holds the forewings and hindwings together during flight).
T. rex skull
SKULL

The skull is the bony structure of the head that encloses the brain and supports the jaws. No insects have a skull.


SNOUT BUTTERFLIES

Snout butterflies have long labial palps (mustache-like scaly mouthparts that are on either side of the proboscis) that look like a long snout. The front pair of legs on the male are reduced in size; the female has six regular-sized legs. They are brush-footed butterflies (Family Libytheana).
southern dogface butterfly

SOUTHERN DOGFACE

The southern dogface butterfly, Colias cesonia, is a yellow butterfly that is also known as the dog's head butterfly. The wings are mostly yellow; there is a small dark circle in the center of the forewing and the margins of the wings are brown) they look a bit like a dog's face). Males have brighter coloration than females. The wingspan is 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches (58-65 cm). The caterpillar is green with black and yellow stripes. This butterfly lives in open woods in the southern half of the USA. The larval host plant is the false indigo bush, Amorpha fruticosa (a legume). Classification: family Pieridae, genus Colias (Zerene), species C. cesonia.


SPEED

The speed varies among butterfly species (the poisonous varieties are slower than non-poisonous varieties). The fastest butterflies (some skippers) can fly at about 30 mile per hour or faster. Slow flying butterflies fly about 5 mph.


SPERM

Sperm are male reproductive cells (gametes). The sperm can fertilize a female's eggs. In butterflies and moths, sperm are transferred to the female in packets called spermatophores.


SPERMATOPHORE

A spermatophore is a packet containing sperm that male butterflies and moths transfer to the female during mating.

SPHYNX MOTH

Sphynx moths (also called hummingbird moths, hawk moths, and clearwing hummingbird moths) look quite similar to hummingbirds. They belong to the lepidopteran family Sphingidae. They are large moths; they have a wingspan of over 5 inches (12.5 cm) and a large body. These strong fliers beat their wings very quickly (like a hummingbird beats its wings). They also eat in a manner similar to hummingbirds, sipping sweet nectar from flowers while hovering near the flower. In the larval stage, these moths are commonly called hornworms (named for a horn-like structure on their rear) and are agricultural pests.
caterpillar head

SPINNERET

A spinneret is a tube-like structure on a larva's lower lip (labium) that contains the spinning apparatus (the silk glands) of the larva. The caterpillar draws silk (which is made in the salivary glands) from a tube in the spinaret. The silk dries when exposed to the air. Caterpillars use this silk to support themselves and to make webs and cocoons.
caterpillar
SPIRACLE

A spiracle is one of an insect's breathing pores. They are usually located on the thorax and abdomen. Caterpillars, butterflies and moths breathe using spiracles.
life cycle

STAGE

A stage is one of the distinct periods of an insect's life cycle. Butterflies and moths have four life stages, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

STEMMA

A stemma (pl. stemmata) is a simple eye that only detects light; it does not focus images. It is also called a lateral ocellus. Caterpillars have two pairs of six ocelli on their head.

STRATA

The strata (singular=stratum) are the different layers of a rainforest. Different animals and plants live in different parts of the rainforest. Scientists divide the rainforest into strata (zones) based on the living environment. Starting at the top, the strata are: emergents, canopy, understory, and forest floor.

STRIDULATION

Stridulation is the noise that some butterflies and moths make by rubbing rasp-like abdominal appendages together. The purpose of this noise is unknown.
Summer Azure

SUMMER AZURE BUTTERFLY

The Summer Azure Butterfly (Celestrina neglecta) is a small, lilac-blue butterfly with a paler underside. It has a wingspan of 3/4 to 1 1/8 inch (2- 2.5 cm). It lives in open areas and grassy fields, and sips clover nectar. It is found in most of eastern North America. The Summer Azure is the palest of the Azure butterflies. It was named by Edwards in 1862. Classification: Family Lycaenidae.
zebra swallowtailtiger swallowtail

SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLIES

Swallowtail butterflies (family Papilionidae) are strong fliers with three fully developed pairs of legs. Many swallowtails have distinctive tailed wings (hence the family name). They lay spherical eggs. These butterflies are found from the tropics to more temperate regions.

SWARM

A swarm is a group of butterflies. Another name for a group of butterflies is a rabble.

SYMBIOSIS

Symbiosis is a situation in which two dissimilar organisms live together. There are many types of symbiosis, including mutualism (in which both organisms benefit), commensalism (in which one organism benefits and the other is not affected), or parasitism (in which one organism benefits at the other organism's expense). Symbiosis used to be defined as a situation in which two dissimilar organisms live together to the benefit of both - this is now called mutualism. The word symbiosis means "living together"" in Greek.
Zoom Butterfly
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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