Glossary of Lepidoptera Technical Terms
Don Herbison-Evans (
names of areas of a wing
apex (plural: apices)
The area of a wing usually furthest from the body,
costa meets the
The area of a wing nearest the body.
Organs at the end of the abdomen of male moths that can be
everted to emit pheromones.
The leading edge of a wing, between the
base and the
One or more hooks at the tip of the abdomen of a pupa that hook
into a pad of silk laid on some supporting object.
The fifth major vein in a wing.
A cell in the middle of a wing that is relatively free of veins,
bounded by the radial, the cubital and the discocellular veins.
On the back.
A type of tongue on the adults of some butterfly and moth families,
used for sucking up liquids, otherwise kept coiled under the head.
The trailing edge of a wing, between the tornus and the
One of the 4 to 6 stages of growth in the life of a Caterpillar.
At the end of each stage, having reached the limit of the
elasticity of its skin, it sheds the outer skin layer,
having grown a potentially larger skin underneath.
Often the coloration and/or pattern of each skin stage is
different from the previous one.
larva (plural: larvae)
The 'Caterpillar' or second life stage of many insects,
after the egg, and before the pupa.
An edge of a wing, usually the farthest from the body,
more accurately called the 'outer margin' or 'termen'.
The fourth major vein in a wing.
osmeterium (plural: osmeteria)
A gland bearing strongly smelling substances,
usually forked and everted typically from behind the head.
Specific aromatic substances that attract
the males and females of a particular species together.
pupa (plural: pupae)
The 'chrysalis' or third stage in
the life of many insects (between the larval and adult stages),
often surrounded by a silk cocoon,
and in which the major metamorphosis from larva to adult
The third major vein in a wing.
Holes along the side of the body,
one each side of each segment,
allowing air to flow and diffuse into the body.
Parallel to and somewhat inward from the
termen (outer margin).
Found in the company of humans.
Another scientific name given to a biological entity
such as a species or family, by an author
describing it in a scientific publication,
usually after it has already been described and given
The edge of a wing furthest from the body,
(between the apex and the tornus)
also called the 'outer margin' or just 'margin'.
The corner of a wing where the outer margin meets the inner margin.
Underneath, on the underside.
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp. 5-28, and 512-517.
Frequently Asked Questions about Caterpillars
(updated 19 November 2007, 12 April 2013, 10 October 2013)