Distributed worldwide, butterflies of this family are especially rich in the tropics. There are more species in this family than in any other. Adults vary in size from small to large, and their front legs are reduced, unable to be used for walking. Wing shape varies widely between different species. Browns, oranges, yellows, and blacks are frequent colors, while iridescent colors such as purples and blues are rare. Adults of some groups are the longest-lived butterflies, surviving 6-11 months. Adult feeding behavior depends on the species, where some groups primarily seek flower nectar while others only feed on sap flows, rotting fruit, dung, or animal carcasses.
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Last updated: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 02:57
There are approximately 4,700 species in this family, and they are distributed around the world. The adults are typically small to tiny and often brilliantly colored--iridescent blues, bright reds, and oranges. Adults of both sexes have three pairs of walking legs. Most adults visit flowers for nectar, but some harvesters feed on wooly aphid honeydew and some hairstreaks feed on aphid honeydew or bird droppings. Females lay single, sea urchin shaped eggs on host leaves or flower buds; the resulting caterpillars are typically slug-shaped. In many species, caterpillars depend on ants for protection, so caterpillars produce sugary secretions that are collected by the ants.
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Last updated: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 20:02
Members of this family typically thrive in the tropical latitudes, especially those of North and South America. Approximately 1,300 species are known. Small to medium in size, metalmarks vary widely in their patterns, behavior, and postures. Males have reduced front legs that are not used for walking, and females have three pairs of walking legs. Adults usually perch with their wings spread open or cocked slightly, while many tropical species habitually perch upside down on large leaves. Males locate mates by perching, rather than flying (patrolling).
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Last updated: Tue, 08/12/2008 - 16:56
The Wild Silk Moths or Silkworm Moths are medium to very large in size, and this family includes the largest moths in North America. Adults have a wingspan of 3 to 15 centimeters, relatively small heads, and densely hairy bodies. Larvae are usually very fleshy, with clumps of raised bristles. Caterpillars mostly feed on leaves of trees and shrubs; some cause severe damage. Pupa develop in silken cocoons or in the soil.
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Last updated: Mon, 08/11/2008 - 23:17
Skippers are found worldwide in distribution, with most of the diversity found in the tropics. More than 3,500 species have been described. Approximately 275 species are found in North America, many of which are found only in Arizona and Texas. Most skippers are small to medium, usually orange, brown, black, white, or gray. A few have iridescent colors. Skippers have large eyes, short antennae (often with hooked clubs), and stout bodies. Their flight is often rapid, making wing movement appear blurred. Adults of most species have long probicscises and feed on floral nectar, but some also take up nutrients from bird droppings.
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Last updated: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 20:01
Members of this family are commonly called "hummingbird," "sphinx," or "hawk" moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and most feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis. The proboscis rolls up when not in use. Some species lack scales on large portions of their wings, resulting in transparent or clear wings. In most species, the larval stage is called a "hornworm" because the caterpillar's posterior end has a harmless hook or hornlike appendage protruding upward. Unfortunately, the caterpillar of some species can be very destructive to agricultural crops and ornamental plantings.
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Last updated: Tue, 08/12/2008 - 22:43
Swallowtails are worldwide in distribution and comprise approximately 560 species. They are richest in the tropics, and their brilliant colors make them favorites of butterfly enthusiasts. Many swallowtail species, especially in the tropics, mimic other butterflies that are distasteful. Som species are distasteful and cause birds and other vertebrate predators to regurgitate. Swallowtail adults are medium to large and may or may not have tails, while parnassian adults are medium, tailless, and have translucent wings. All adult parnassians and swallowtails have three pairs of walking legs, and adults of all species visit flowers for nectar.
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Last updated: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 02:56
Members of this family are worldwide in distribution, but most species are found in the tropics. Adults have medium to small wings that are white, yellow, or orange, with some black or red, and many have hidden ultraviolet patterns that are used in courtship. Species with more than one generation usually have distinct seasonal variation in appearance. Adults of all species visit flowers for nectar, and adults of both sexes have three pairs of walking legs. The majority of caterpillars of North American whites and sulphurs feed on legumes or crucifers (members of the Mustard family). Typically, temperate species overwinter in the pupal or larval stage, while tropical species overwinter as adults.
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Last updated: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 02:58