Butterflies and moths belong to a group of insects called the Lepidoptera. This word comes from the Greek words for scale (lepis) and wing (pteron). Butterflies and moths are the only insects with tiny, coloured scales on their wings.

The Lepidoptera group includes 200,000 species, most of which are moths. There are nearly 18,000 species of butterflies in the world, and 155 species in Manitoba.

Butterflies evolved when flowering plants
evolved, about 150 million years ago.

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Butterfly Bodies

Like all insects, butterflies have 3 main body parts: head, thorax and abdomen. They have a hard exoskeleton made of chitin (”kite-in”) and proteins.

 Butterflies have 6 jointed-legs, compound eyes, a pair of antennae and 4 large wings. They have a coiled tube called a proboscis for eating, and breath through holes on their abdomens, called spiracles.


Butterflies have slender bodies and thin, club-shaped antennae. They hold their wings upright at rest, and fly in the daytime.

Click each butterfly or moth.

Or Moth?

Moths have thick, hairy bodies with thread-like or feathery antennae. They hold their wings spread flat at rest, and fly at night.

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