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Basic Butterfly Info

An Introduction to Butterflies

Butterflies are members of the insect order Lepidoptera, the literal meaning of which is 'scale-winged', and included with them are the moths. It is the wing scales which give the butterflies their beautiful colors and patterns and make them one of the most familiar of all insect groups. The exact origins and age of the Lepidoptera are not precisely known, since the fossilisation of such delicate creatures has occurred only rarely, but fossils of some primitive moths in amber have been dated as originating in the Lower Cretaceous period between 100 and 130 million years ago. This fits in quite well with the estimated age of the flowering plants alongside which it is assumed that the Lepidoptera have evolved, since all but a few of them depend upon flowers as a source of food as adults.


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