Discuss NZ butterfly . info
Support NZ butterfly . info

NZ butterfly on Facebook
Helping you identify, encourage & conserve NZ's Butterflies
Contents > Resources > Glossary

Glossary

A B C D F G H I L M N O P Q S T V

Abdomen
The rear section of a butterfly (or other insect) which contains the internal organs like digestive system, excretory system, nervous system and sexual organs. On a larvae it is segments 4 to 11.

Androconia
Scales on some male butterflies that emit a scent (scent scales or sex gland).

Antenna
Appendages for sensing which occur in pairs on the head of the imago butterfly (or other insect).

Bifid
Separated into two equal parts.

Cocoon
A silk tent spun around the larva before pupation. The few New Zealand Butterflies that do this usually use silk to hold some dead leaves in place for protection.

Cremaster
The hind part of a pupa by which some species hang during pupation.

Diapause
A state of hibernation which is triggered by changes in temperature and day-light, this enables the butterfly to survive winter. Often mixed up with quiescence.

Dimorphism
A Butterfly (or other insect) that has two or more different forms, generally, but not limited to, a male and female form.

Diurnal
An insect that is active in the daytime, eg, a day-flying Moth.

Dorsal
A line along the top of the larva.

Filaments
An antenna-like elongated flexible unsegmented extension on the body, usually on larvae.

Foodplant
A plant or plants that the larvae feed on.

Frass
The larvae's droppings.

Girdle
A silken strand that us used to hold the pupa in place against a twig, wall, etc.

Head
The front section of a butterfly (or other insect) which contains the eyes, antennae and proboscis. On the larvae the head contains the mandibles, eyes and sometimes setae.

Imago (Adult)
The forth and last lifestage of a Butterfly. This is the flying stage that really grabs our attention.

Instar
The period of a larva's life between moults of it's skin. Most butterflies have 5 instars. The final instar is sometimes referred to as the pupa (6th instar).

Larvae (Caterpillars)
The second lifestage of a Butterfly where it begins to grow. This is the second most noticeable stage as larvae of most butterflies are fairly obvious on their foodplant. Larvae are split into 11 segments behind the head.

Lateral
The side of the Butterfly. Usually it refers to a line down the side of the larvae.

Lifestage
Butterflies have 4 lifestages starting with the ovum, then the larva, then the pupa and finally the imago. The change between each lifestage is called metamorphosis.

Longitudinal
Extending along the long axis of the body, from the head to the tail.

Mandibles
The mouthparts of the larvae (or other insect).

Mesothorax
The middle of the thorax that contains the second pair of legs and first pair of wings. On a larvae, it is segment 2.

Metamorphosis
When a Butterfly (or any insect) has a change in lifestage and changes from a ova to a larva, larva to a pupa or pupa to a imago.

Metathorax
The rear of the thorax that contains the third pair of legs and second pair of wings. On a larvae, it is segment 3.

Moult
When a larva sheds it's skin to grow. The final moult is when a larva turns into a pupae.

Nocturnal
An insect that is active in the nighttime, eg, a Moth.

Ocelli
An eyelike spot found on many species of butterfly.

Oviposit
Egg-laying (oviposited - a laid egg).

Ovum (Egg)
The first lifestage of a Butterfly (or any insect).

Proboscis
The Butterflies tongue or feeding tube.

Prolegs (False Legs)
The middle and hind legs of a larvae. These disappear when the butterfly pupates into a imago.

Prothorax
The front of the thorax that contains the first pair of legs. On a larvae, it is segment 1.

Pupa or Pupae (Chrysalis)
The third lifestage of a Butterfly where it changes from a larva to a imago. This stage is well hidden to avoid predators and the worst of the weather. Different species of Butterflies use different methods for pupae placement.

Pupation
1. The act of changing from a larva into a pupa.
2. The period of time spent in the pupa stage.

Quiescence
A state of slowing all activity in cold weather. A state most of our native Butterflies use during the winter months, hence the occasional activity and sightings on a warm winter's day. Generally referred to as hibernation. Often mixed up with diapause.

Segment
1 of the 11 divisions of a larvae's body. The segments are counted from the head, so number 1 is the one first one behind the head, number 2 is the next one and so on until number 11 at the tail end. Each segment may contain one pair of legs, 1 pair of prolegs and a pair of spiracles.

Setae
A stiff hair or bristle-like part of the body. Usually found on larvae of the family Nymphalinae.

Spiracles
The holes a Butterfly breathes through. They are found on the side of the abdomen of larvae, pupae and imagos.

Thorax
The middle section of a butterfly (or other insect) which contains the wings and legs. On a larvae it is segments 1 to 3.

Ventral
The 'belly' of a butterfly or larvae. The lower part of the abdomen.


Contents > Resources > Glossary