Butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera)
The caterpillars or larvae of Lepidoptera, which are homometabolous insects (with complete metamorphosis), go through a variable number of stages (moults), and their colour and shape differ greatly. The caterpillar transforms into a pupa (pupal stage), later emerging as a moth. Pupation (inactive stage between the larval stage and the pupal stage) usually takes place in a shelter or silken cocoon spun by the caterpillar and hidden in the litter or on plants.
Lepidoptera overwinter as eggs, larvae, pupae or cocoons, or as adults, depending on the species.
Lepidoptera are mainly phytophagous (plant feeders), but a few species are zoophagous (predators) or saprophagous (detritivorous). They can be found in many different habitats, depending on their diet and their developmental stage (larva or adult). In agricultural and forest environments, phytophagous caterpillars feed primarily on foliage. Other species occur on plant fruits and flowers, tree trunks and plant stems, and in the litter. Some moths are diurnal, but a number of families are predominantly crepuscular or nocturnal. Although moths and butterflies are very important pollinators, many Lepidoptera are pests (spruce budworm, hemlock looper, forest tent caterpillar, etc.).
Here are typical representatives of some families in this order. At least one species associated with these families is describe in the site´s fact sheets.
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