Lepidoptera (/ˌlɛpˈdɒptərə/ lep-i-DOP-tər-ə) is a laorge order o insects that includes mochs an butterflees (baith cried lepidopterans). It is ane o the maist widespread an widely recognizable insect orders in the warld,[1] encompassin mochs an the three superfaimilies o butterflees, skipper butterflees, an moch-butterflees. The term wis coined bi Linnaeus in 1735 an is derived frae Auncient Greek λεπίδος (scale) an πτερόν (wing).[2] Comprisin an estimatit 174,250 species,[3] in 126 faimilies[4] an 46 superfaimilies,[3] the Lepidoptera shaw mony variations o the basic body structur that hae evolved tae gain advantages in lifestyle an distribution. Recent estimates suggest that the order mey hae mair species than earlier thoucht,[5] an is amang the fower maist speciose orders, alang wi the Hymenoptera, Diptera, an the Coleoptera.[1]

Temporal range: Early Jurassicpresent, 200–0 Ma
Monarch butterflee an luna moch, twa widely recognised lepidopterans
Scientific classification e
Kinrick: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Cless: Insecta
(unranked): Amphiesmenoptera
Order: Lepidoptera
Linnaeus, 1758


Lepidopteran species are characterized bi mair nor three derived features, some o the maist apparent bein the scales coverin thair bodies an wings, an a proboscis. The scales are modified, flattened "hairs", an gie butterflees an mochs thair extraordinary variety o colors an patterns. Almaist aw species hae some fairm o membranous wings, except for a few that hae reduced wings or are wingless. Lik maist ither insects, butterflees an maiths are holometabolous, meanin thay unnergo complete metamorphosis. Matin an the layin o eggs are carried oot bi adults, normally near or on host plants for the larvae. The larvae are commonly cried caterpillars, an are completely different frae thair adult moch or butterflee form, havin a cylindrical body wi a well-developed heid, mandible mooth pairts, an frae 0 tae 11 (uisually 8) pairs o prolegs. As thay grow, thir larvae will chynge in appearance, goin throu a series o stages cried instars. Ance fully matured, the larva develops intae a pupa, referred tae as a chrysalis in the case o butterflies an a cocoon in the case o mochs. A few butterflees an mony moch species spin a silk case or cocoon prior tae pupating, while ithers dae nae, instead gangin unnergrund.[1]

Butterflees an moths play an important role in the naitural ecoseestem as pollinators an as fuid in the fuid chain; conversely, thair larva are considered very problematic tae vegetation in agricultur, as thair main soorce o fuid is eften live plant matter. In mony species, the female mey produce onywhaur frae 200 tae 600 eggs, while in ithers the nummer mey gang as heich as 30,000 eggs in ane day. The caterpillars hatchin frae thir eggs can cause damage tae lairge quantities o crops. Mony moch an butterflee species are o economic interest bi virtue o thair role as pollinators, the silk thay produce or as pest species.


  1. a b c Powell, Jerry A. (2009). "Lepidoptera". In Resh, Vincent H.; Cardé, Ring T. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Insects (2 (illustrated) ed.). Academic Press. pp. 557–587. ISBN 978-0-12-374144-8. Archived frae the original on 21 Julie 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  2. Harper, Douglas. "lepidoptera". The Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 8 Februar 2011.
  3. a b Mallet, Jim (12 Juin 2007). "Taxonomy of Lepidoptera: the scale of the problem". The Lepidoptera Taxome Project. University College, London. Retrieved 8 Februar 2011.
  4. Capinera, John L. (2008). "Butterflies and moths". Encyclopedia of Entomology. 4 (2nd ed.). Springer. pp. 626–672. ISBN 9781402062421.
  5. Kristensen, Niels P.; Scoble, M. J. & Karsholt, Ole (2007). "Lepidoptera phylogeny and systematics: the state of inventorying moth and butterfly diversity". In Z.-Q. Zhang & W. A. Shear (ed.). Linnaeus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy (Zootaxa:1668) (PDF). Magnolia Press. pp. 699–747. ISBN 978-0-12-690647-9. Archived frae the original (PDF) on 15 Mey 2013. Retrieved 2 Mairch 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors leet (link)

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