Lepidoptera. The word doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you can use it the next time you refer to any of the world’s many thousands of species of butterflies and moths. They are all lepidopterans.
The word comes from the ancient Greek language. The first part, lepido, means “scale”. The second part, ptera, translates as “wing”. So, lepidopterans – butterflies and moths – are members of the insect class whose wings are composed of scales. This trait isn’t easily seen at a distance. You’ll need a closer look, perhaps with a magnifying glass, to really appreciate the natural design and beauty of any insect wing.
When you do get up close and personal with any of your neighborhood lepidopterans, take the opportunity to check out the following characteristics:
- Two large compound eyes
- Paired antennae
- A long thin mouthpart called a proboscis, which is sometimes coiled
- Three pairs of jointed legs
- Three main body segments – head, thorax and abdomen
The closer we observe living creatures, the better we understand and appreciate them.