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Manhattan KS 66506-4004

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Order Lepidoptera


Butterflies and moths have four wings and siphoning mouthparts (mouthparts prolonged into a long, tongue-like organ). A few of the adults, such as female cankerworms, are wingless. Metamorphosis is complete, the life stages being the egg, larva pupa, and adult. The larvae of butterflies and moths are called caterpillars and have chewing mouthparts. The pupa of most moths is enclosed in a cocoon. Moths hide during the daytime and are active at night, while butterflies fly during the day and are inactive at night. Butterflies are usually brighter colored than moths, hold their wings upright when at rest, and have their antennae enlarged or knob-like at the tip. One group of butterflies, the skippers, have the tips of their antennae bent back like the handles of canes. Moths are dull colored, fold their wings flat on the back or extend them sideways when at rest, and never have antennae with knobs at the tips. Butterflies visit flowers during the day. Many moths come to lights at night and many of the larvae are injurious to plants.

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Family Hesperiidae


The antennae of skippers differs from moths and butterflies, in having a hook-like tip. They fly erratically, in a skipping flight.

Family Yponomeutidae

Atteva punctella - Ailanthes Webworm moth

Size: Wingspan of 1" (25 mm)

Larvae make webs and feed on ailanthus trees.

Family Nymphalidae

Vanessa cardui - the painted lady butterfly

Size: wingspan of 1 3/4" (44mm)

Said to be the most common butterfly in the world. Larvae feed on many weeds, including sunflower, hollyhock and thistles.

**most of the images included in these pages are from the 'Insects in Kansas' Book. They are freely available for student and noncommercial use (according to their copyright agreement with each photographer) at the PDIS image site, http://www.pdis.org/default.aspx

For additional information on Lepidoptera, please check out the following websites: