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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.

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.

TAGGING

Tagging is a process in which an animal is fitted with a small label that has a serial number on it, noting where and when the animal was found, and other appropriate information. Scientists later retrieve the animal and can interpret the information that is obtained. Scientists can then determine where, when, how fast, and how far the animal travelled. This information can provide insight as to how fast they travel, how animals navigate during migrations, how they cope with weather variations, how different groups of a species differ, etc. Some butterflies are tagged so that scientists can learn more about how them.

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.
TAXON
A taxon is category in the classification of living organisms. The taxa (the plural of taxon) in the Linnean system are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.

TAXONOMY

Taxonomy is the science of classifying organisms into groups by structure, origin, common ancestor, etc.

TEMPERATE RAINFOREST

Temperate rainforests are very wet, ancient forests that rarely freeze or get very hot. Most of the world's temperate rainforests are in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.


TENTACLES

Some caterpillars have tentacles (also known as filaments) on their bodies. These fleshy appendages provide sensory information for the caterpillar. They are often mistaken for antennae. Monarch caterpillars have two pairs of tentacles.
TERTIARY PERIOD
The Tertiary period lasted from 65 to 1.8 million years ago. It followed the Cretaceous period (the end of the Mesozoic Era) and the K-T extinction. Many mammals developed then, including primitive whales, rodents, pigs, cat, rhinos, etc.
caterpillar

THORACIC LEGS

Thoracic legs are the three pairs of jointed legs on the thorax (mid region) of a caterpillar. Each of these legs has a grasping hook at the end.


THORAX

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.
Garden Tiger Moth

TIGER MOTH

Tiger moths (Family Arctiidae) are common moths with colorful, tiger-like markings. These moths have a large, heavy body, and are slow fliers. Their caterpillars, called woolly bears, have long black hairs on top and rust-colored hairs on the underside. There are many species of tiger moths found in temperate regions in much of the world (like the Garden Tiger Moth illustrated above).
tiger swallowtail

TIGER SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

The tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucas) is a strong flier with distinctive yellow and black striped markings on its wings and body (some females are brown or black, mimicking the poisonous pipevine swallowtail). This butterfly has a wingspan of 3.5-6.5 inches (9-16.5 cm) and is found throughout the USA and Canada. The caterpillar is plump and green with yellow eyespots; it looks like bird droppings when young. Larvae eat leaves from the tulip tree, sweet bay, wild black cherry, ash, lilac, aspen, birch, and choke cherry.

TOXIN

A toxin is a poison. Some butterflies eat plants that contain toxins in order to poison their predators. Monarchs eat milkweed for its toxic glycosides.

TRACHEA

Trachea are tiny tubes that carry air through a butterfly (or moth) body.

TRANSPIRATION

Transpiration is the process in which plants lose water through pores in their leaves (these openings are called stomata). As water is lost from the plant, the plant takes up more water (and minerals) through its roots. The rate of transpiration varies as the conditions of the plant change and is controlled by the opening and closing the stomata.

TRAP LINING

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

TREE NYMPH BUTTERFLY

The tree nymph butterfly, also called the rice paper butterfly, paper kite butterfly, or wood nymph (Idea leuconoe) is a distinctive black and white butterfly. The wingspan is 95 to 110 cm across. The chrysalis is yellow with black markings. It is from Southeast Asia. Classification: superfamily Papilionigiae, family Nymphalidae, subfamily Danainae, Genus Idea, Species I. Leuconoe.


TROPICAL RAINFOREST

Tropical rainforests are warm, very wet forests that do not freeze (the temperature remains over 75°F=24°C) and do not get extremely hot. Tropical rainforests cover about 7% of the Earth's surface in a band around the equator.

TUBERCLE

A tubercle is a small, knob-like or rounded protuberance (a short, fat tentacle) that sometimes bears a spine or stores and can release a chemical (like everscible tubercles). Many caterpillars have tubercles. For example, the caterpillars of the Cecropia and Cynthia moths have many tubercles along the body.

TYPE SPECIES

A type species is the species of an organism from which a new genus is named. For example, Tyrannosaurus rex is the type species for the genus Tyrannosaurus.

TYPE SPECIMEN

A type specimen is the set of fossil remains of an organism from which a new species is named.
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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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