The Lepidoptera include moths and butterflies. Body size range from small to large, with occasional very large species. The Lepidoptera is one of the largest insect orders with nearly 100,000 species described.
Mandibles are absent in the majority of lepidopterans, and mouthparts in adults are straw-like haustellates. The fore and hind wings are membranous, and different in size. Both wing surfaces are covered in overlapping scales, which causes iridescence, or change of color as angle of view change.
The metamorphosis in the Lepidoptera, from larva to adult is quite dynamic.
|Caterpillar of Monarch butterfly|
The fossil record of the Lepidoptera dates back to the late Cretaceous, but most fossils are not well preserved. It is speculated that Lepidoptera may have existed in the Jurassic. The Tertiary fossil record of Lepidoptera is not good compared with other insect orders. The Lepidoptera most likely inhabited environments with low fossil preservation potential.
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