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Lepidoptera

What they are and how they are classified

Lepidoptera are a very numerous order of insects, which reaches almost 160,000 species: it is second only to beetles. The name “moth” derives from the union of two Greek words, “lepis” (scale) and “pteron” (wing) and takes its cue from the scales that cover the wings of these insects, more commonly known as butterflies and moths (nocturnal butterflies ). The moths are divided into four suborders, but most of the species belongs to that of glossed. They can also be subdivided according to the characteristics of the wings: the homoneurs have similar front and rear wings, the heteroneurs, on the other hand, have larger and richer front wings.

The biological cycle


The mothsduring their lifetime they radically transform their body, in a four-stage process called metamorphosis. In the first stage they occur in the form of eggs, which the adult specimens deposit in groups on the underside of the leaves of the plants. The larvae or caterpillars will be born from the eggs. These will live on the plant mainly feeding on leaves until they reach maturity: at this point they will stop feeding and, in the third stage, will transform into chrysalises, or pupae. The characteristic of the pupae is to remain motionless inside a cocoon or anchored to a silk support in sheltered places until the moment of transforming into a butterfly (fourth stage). The transformation into a butterfly takes the name of flicker and takes place mainly between April and May and between July and August.

Larval stage


In the larval state, the lepidoptera take on an elongated cylindrical shape and are covered with hairs or bristles scattered or distributed in tufts. They are wingless and move thanks to their thoracic legs and abdominal pseudo-legs. They are phytophagous and are considered dangerous parasites of plants due to their ability to devour entire crops in a short time. There are homophagous species, which feed on a single plant species, such as cabbage; oligophagous species that choose from several species of the same family; and finally polyphagous, which feed on plants of different families. Caterpillars can also be classified according to the way they attack the host plant. There are defoliator caterpillars, embroiderers and miners. The former completely eat the leaf leaving only the rib; the latter leave an embroidery on the leaf they eat; the thirds dig tunnels in the wood and leaves. In fact, hardly any plant is saved from the caterpillar, which can infest flowers, vegetables and even trees.

Lepidoptera: The characteristics of the adult specimen


Unlike the caterpillar, the moth in its adult form is harmless to crops. It has a body consisting of a head, abdomen and thorax with two appendages, wings and legs. On the head there are three fundamental elements for the butterfly: the antennae, the compound eyes and the spiritromba. The antennas are the seat of important chemical and tactile functions; compound eyes have the characteristic of being made up of hundreds of small lenses that allow the butterfly to orient itself in flight. Finally, the spiritromba is a mouthparts similar to a small proboscis, which allows the butterflies to feed on the nectar of the flowers. The butterfly has two pairs of membranous wings, distinct in front and back. These are rich in ribs and tubes (tracheae) through which oxygen passes.

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