The name Lepidoptera means “scale wings.” Take a close look at the wings of these insects and you will see overlapping scales, like shingles on a roof. The order Lepidoptera includes butterflies and moths, and is the second largest group in the insect world.
To find out more, read Differences Between Butterflies and Moths.
Habitat and Distribution:
Butterflies and moths live in a variety of land habitats on every continent except Antarctica. Their distribution is dependent on their food source. Habitat must provide the appropriate host plants for the caterpillars, and good nectar sources for the adults.
Major Families in the Order:
Species of Interest:
- Danaus plexippus, the monarch butterfly, is the only butterfly in the world to migrate in two directions.
- Ornithoptera alexandrae (Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing) is the world’s largest butterfly, with a wingspan of up to 12 inches.
- Bombyx mori is no longer found in the wild. The Silkworm moth has been bred in captivity for thousands of years.
- Actias luna, the Luna moth, is one of the most beautiful and colorful moths. It is a common moth in the eastern U.S.