Butterfly Terminology

Learn some of the basic butterfly terminology that you’ll encounter at the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House.

One of the three main parts of an insects body. It’s the rear end.
Feeler-like appendages located on insects’ heads above their mouth.
The larval stage of a butterfly.
The outer covering of a butterfly pupa. Often, the term chrysalis is used to refer to the pupa itself.
compound eye
An eye with many elements, common in insects, in which each element is visible as a hexagonal facet.
A structure, much like a hook, on the rear of a chyrsalis, which helps to secure the chrysalis to a leaf, twig, etc.
host plant
The plant used for food by a specific species. Butterflies typically lay their eggs on the host plant used by the caterpillar. A single species of butterfly may use one or several species of plants as host plants.
Individual growth stage of a caterpillar. Instars are separated by moults.
larva (pl. larvae)
The immature stage of an insect which goes through complete metamorphosis, between the egg and pupa stages. In butterflies the larval stage is a called a caterpillar.
A biological term typically used to describe a long, flexible feeding structure. In butterflies it is the long coiled tube through which they feed.
A false leg, used in locomotion, found on the abdominal segment of a caterpillar. A caterpillar has five pairs of prolegs. Caterpillars, like other insects, have only six true legs, and these arise from the thorax (or thoracic segments).
pupa (pl. pupae)
The stage between juvenile and adult forms of an insect. In butterflies, the pupa is encased by a chrysalis. Typically this stage (the pupal stage) is immobile and does not feed, however complete reconstruction is taking place internally.
To become a pupa.
One of the three main regions comprising an insect. It is located between the head and the abdomen and is where the legs and/or wings are attached.