Argynnis pandora - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Argynnis pandora, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis



abdomen: the segmented tail area of an insect that contains vital organs

anal angle: the posterior corner of the wing

androconia: specialized scent-releasing scales of males

antenna: sensory appendages attached to the head of butterflies and moths

antenna club: the end of the antennae

apex: the anterior corner of a butterfly’s wing

aposematism: the use of warning coloration to inform potential predators that an animal is poisonous, venomous, or otherwise dangerous.


basal area: the area of a wing nearest the body, where it joins the thorax.

basking: known as reflectance and this is used when the butterfly wants to reflect the sunlight to their body versus just their wings. The butterfly sit or lie back lazily in warmth and light


cell: a closed area of an insect bounded by veins

chitin: polysaccharide compound that is a key constituent of the butterfly exoskeleton or cuticle

claw: the very tiny hooks on a butterfly’s feet

cocoon: a silk protective covering for pupa

compound eye: the eye of a butterfly or a moth, made up of numerous hexagonal lenses which focus light from each angle

costa: the anterior margin of the wing

cremaster: used to attach the hind end of a butterfly or moth’s pupa to a twig or other structure. The cremaster can be a series of small hooks or just a single larger hook.

crepuscular: appearing or active in twilight


dimorphism: having two forms, e.g. sexual dimorphism

discal area: the area between the basal and the postdiscal area on the wing

diurnal: active during the day

dorsal: upper part or topside


endemic: exclusively occurring in a defined geographic area

external margin: the outer part of the wing


food plant: a plant that provides food for the caterpillars

foreleg: the first pair of legs, attached to the prothorax

forewing: the upper wings of a butterfly attached to the mesothorax

fringes: the edging of fine even hairs on the wing of a butterfly


habitat: the natural home or environment of an organism

hibernation: a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression

hind legs: the last pair of legs, attached to the metathorax

hindwing: the upper wings of a butterfly attached to the metathorax


inner margin: the inner part of the wing


larva: the active immature form of a butterfly, the caterpillar

Lepidoptera: (=scaled wings) order of insects that comprises the butterflies and moths

loopers: larvae of the families Geometridae and Noctuidae that move with a looping motion in which the hind prolegs draw the posterior body toward the front followed by forward extension by the anterior legs.


migrant: a butterfly that seasonally moves (migrates) from one area to another

midleg: the middle pair of legs, attached to the mesothorax

mimicry: the superficial resemblance of two or more organisms that are not closely related taxonomically

miners: various insects, such as moths that in the larval stages burrow in and eat several parts of their host plant

myrmecophily: ecological relationships of organisms regularly associated with ants


nocturnal: active at night


ocellus (pl. ocelli): simple eyes bearing only one lens, generally adjacent to compound eyes; fake eyespots

ommatidium (pl. ommatidia): a single unit of a compound eye

osmeterium: a gland bearing strongly smelling substances, usually forked and everted typically from behind the head


palps: appendages of insect mouthparts

patrolling: fly over a particular area where other butterflies are active for the purpose of searching out a mate

perching: landing on a tall plant or other objects for the purpose of searching out a mate

plume: a long, soft feather or arrangement of feathers

polyphagous: feeding on many plant species

positive phototaxis: a locomotory movement, that occurs when an organism moves towards a stimulus of light, in the direction of increasing light intensity

postdiscal area: the area between the submarginal and discal area on the wing

prolegs: fleshy pairs of supplementary legs on larval abdominal segments

proboscis: an elongated feeding tube attached to the head of the butterfly

pupa: the ‘chrysalis’ or the third stage in the life cycle of a butterfly


submarginal area: the area of a wing usually furthest from the body


thorax: the body section between the head and the abdomen


ventral: lower part or underside


wingspan: the distance across the tops of a butterfly wings