Glossary of Butterfly Terms
apiculus - An extension of the antennal club in skippers (Family
chrysalis - See pupa.
colonist - A butterfly that establishes a temporary or permanent popula-
tion in a new area.
crepuscular - Active at dawn or dusk.
diurnal - Active during daylight.
flight - A generation of adults. Many species are widely distributed across
North America. In the north, these species may have only a single flight
(one generation) each year, and the southern residents have two flights.
When there is only one flight, adults emerge in spring or summer, mate,
and deposit eggs. Depending upon the species, the caterpillars may com-
plete their development in the fall, overwinter as pupae, and emerge in the following spring or summer. Alternatively, they may overwinter as cater-
pillars, resume development in early spring, then have a brief pupal stage
and emerge as adults in spring or summer. In areas where there are two
well-spaced flights annually, say April-May and July-August, it means
that the adults that emerge in spring lay eggs that complete the entire life
cycle by July-August, and that the July-August flight produces the over-
forewing - The anterior wing, closer to the anterior (head) end of the adult.
hindwing - The posterior (rear) wing.
larva (plural: larvae) - The caterpillar; the long, worm-like stage of the
butterfly or moth. It often has an interesting pattern of stripes or patches,
and it may have spine-like hairs. It is the feeding and growth stage. As it
grows, it sheds its skin four or more times so as to enclose its rapidly grow-
Lepidoptera - Derived from the Latin "lepido"=scale + "ptera"=wing,
and it is the Order that contains all butterflies and moths.
life history - The taxonomic, biological and ecological studies of a spec-
NatureServe Global Status - NatureServe is a non-profit conservation
organization. Global ranks indicate the rarity of a species at a global scale. Species may be fairly common globally but imperiled locally. Global
ranks have the following meaning:
G1 - Critically Imperiled - At very high risk of extinction due to ex-
treme rarity (often 5 or fewer populations), very steep declines, or other
G2 - Imperiled - At high risk of extinction due to very restricted range,
very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors.
G3 - Vulnerable - At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted
range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and wide-
spread declines, or other factors.
G4 - Apparently Secure - Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-
term concern due to declines or other factors.
G5 - Secure - Common; widespread and abundant.
* ? or Q - status unknown or uncertain.
nocturnal - Active at night.
overwinter - To lie dormant.
patrolling - A mate-locating behavior of butterflies characterized by
males flying through likely habitat in search of receptive females.
perching - A mate-locating behavior of butterflies characterized by
males sitting on objects or spaces by which receptive females are likely
proboscis - The coiled tube through which adult butterflies and moths
imbibe nectar and other fluids.
pupa - The chrysalis; the transformation stage within which the
caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult insect's structures
are formed. The pupa of most species is brown or green and blends
into the background. Many species overwinter in this stage.
taxonomic group - A group of related organisms; a category in
taxonomy - The science of classifying living organisms.
tegulae - The small appendages attached to the protothorax just above
and in front of the forewing base, curling over the costa and covering the
base. Singluar: tegula.
veins - Tubular branching rods that extend from the bases to the
margins of the wings and provide support for the wing membrane.
venation - Pattern of formation and branching of veins in wings.
voucher specimen - A specimen archived in a permanent collection
(usually in a museum, an institution with a mandate to preserve
wing span - Distance between the tips of the forewings; measured in
centimeters (cm) or inches (in).
Calendar of Events
Sky Meadows Park
Crooked Run Valley