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SpeciesBank: Butterflies


Abdomen The third body part of an adult butterfly.
Alkaline Non-acidic soils with alkaline salts.
Alpine The region above treeline in mountains.
Anal margin The area of a butterfly's hindwing along the inner margin adjacent to the body.
Androconial scales Specialized scales on a butterfly wing that produce scent for courtship and mating; often visible as a black or grey patch on the forewings of a male.
Antenna(e) The clubbed sensory organ found in pairs on the head of a butterfly.
Apex The tip of a butterfly's forewing.
Arctic The region of the world found north of treeline.

Basal The part of a butterfly's wing close to the body.
Biennial Occurring in two-year cycles.
Bog Wetland with acidic soil, often with clumps of spruce, larch, or cedar and with sphagnum moss.
Boreal The northern, humid coniferous forest region of North America.
Brackish The condition of water where saltwater and freshwater meet.

Cell A wing area enclosed by veins.
Chrysalis The third stage of a butterfly's life cycle in which it develops in a hard case into an adult. Usually called a pupa.
Circumpolar Distributed around the northern regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Cline A gradual change over a wide geographic range in a species' appearance (size, colour, markings, etc.).
Concave With an inward curve.
Convex With an outward curve.
Costa The forward edge of a butterfly's wing.
Costal fold The margin of the costal area that contains scent scales in some butterflies.
Cremaster The hooks at the end of the chrysalis.

Diapause The state of arrested development in the immature stages of insects during which they pass unfavourable seasons for growth.
Dicotyledon The majority of flowering plants in which the leaf veins are typically branched.
Dimorphic A butterfly having two different forms of the sexes or two forms of one sex. See also polymorphic.
Disjunct The range of a species broken into two or more geographically separate populations.
Dorsal The upper surface of a wing or body.

Endemeic Distribution limited to a specified area.
Estivate Spend the summer in an inactive state.
Extinct No individuals of a species survive.
Extirpated No individuals of a species survive in a given area where it formerly occurred.

Falcate With the tip of the forewing hooked.
Fell-field An arctic habitat dominated by boulders with low vegetation such as lichens, mosses, grasses, and dwarf wildflowers.
Forewings The forward pair of wings.

Genitalia The sex organs of a butterfly.
Gravid When female butterflies carry eggs.
Gynandromorph A butterfly with characteristics of both sexes.

Haustellum The coiled tongue of a butterfly used to sip up liquids, including nectar; sometimes called a proboscis.
Hibernation Overwintering in an inactive state.
Hindwings The rear pair of wings.
Holarctic The Northern Hemisphere zoogeographic regions, combining Eurasia and North America to the temperate regions.
Holotype A specimen from the type series designated to represent the identity of a species.

Inner margin The hind edge of a forewing.
Instars The stages of growth of a caterpillar between moults.
Introduced Not native to a region.

Larva The second stage of a butterfly's life cycle; the caterpillar.
Local Found in small colonies or restricted to a very specific habitat.
Lunule A crescent-shaped mark.

Marginal The outer edge of the wings.
Maritime Bordering the sea; in Canada, the east coast provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Marsh A wetland with standing water, grasses, rushes, or sedges.
Median The middle portion of a butterfly's wing.
Melanic A dark or blackish form of a species.
Migrant A butterfly that makes regular long-distance flights.
Moulting When a caterpillar sheds its skin.
Monocotyledon A flowering plant whose leaf veins are unbranched, typically grasses, sedges, lilies, and orchids.

Nearctic The zoogeographic region that includes Canada, the United States, Greenland, and most of Mexico.
Nectar The liquid produced by flowers to attract insects.
Nunatak A mountain peak completely surrounded by glacial ice.

Osmeterium The fleshy organs protruded by swallowtail caterpillars that produce a strong odour.
Oviposit A female laying eggs.

Patrolling Male butterflies flying in a specific territory to find mates or drive away rival males.
Perching Male butterflies on an object awaiting passing females or rival males.
Polymorphic A species having several forms.
Proboscis The coiled tongue of a butterfly used to sip up liquids, including nectar; technically called a haustellum.
Pupa The third life stage of a butterfly in which caterpillars transform to adults.

Relict A population left behind far from the main range of a species, particularly during a glacial period.

Scales The shingle-like plates covering the wings of a butterfly that give it its colour and pattern.
Scree A rock pile in the mountains at the base of a cliff or slope.
Segment The ring-like units of a structure; e.g., segments of a caterpillar's body, segments of the antenna, etc.
Sibling species Two closely related, similar-looking species, but often with ecological and behavioural differences.
Sphragis A waxy pouch left by a male Parnassian butterfly on the abdominal tip of a female to prevent further mating.
Spiracles The breathing holes on the sides of a caterpillar or butterfly.
Stigma Specialized scent scales on the forewings of some skippers and hairstreaks.
Subapical The part of the forewing inward from the tip.
Subarctic The region of the country at or near treeline.
Subdorsal The marks on each side of the back of a caterpillar, between the middle of the back (middorsal) and the side (lateral).
Submarginal The area of the wing near but not at the wing margin.

Taiga The coniferous forest zone lying south of the arctic tundra.
Tarsal claws The pair of claws at the tip of a butterfly's leg.
Thorax The middle section of a butterfly's body to which the wings and legs are attached.
Translucent Transmits light, but is not transparent. Treeline The northern limit (or elevation in mountains) where trees can grow.
Tubercle A bump on a caterpillar's body.
Tundra An arctic environment above treeline with stunted vegetation.
Type locality The collecting locality of the type specimen.
Type series The original set of specimens on which the description of a species is based.
Type species The species upon which a genus is based (a genus may contain many species but only one designated species is its type species).
Type specimen(s) The original specimen(s) on which the description of a species is based.

Ultraviolet Invisible rays of the light spectrum, beyond visible light, that show up in ultraviolet photographs.

Venation The vein pattern in the wings of butterflies.
Ventral The lower surface of the wings or body.

Reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler. The Toronto Entomologists' Association thanks Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for providing the content and computer code for this web page.