Order : Lepidoptera
( Unranked ) Rhopalocera
Distribution : Worldwide
Size : 12.5 – 300 mm ( ½ – 12 In )
Butterflies are important pollinators of plants, and therefore, play an important role in the environment. They are holometabolous insects that is, they go through a full metamorphic life cycle composed of four distinct stages – the egg, larva, pupa and imago ( adult ). They are part of the order Lepidoptera, and are made up of around 17,500 different species. These are split into three superfamilies – the Hedyloidea( the moth-butterflies ), the Hesperioidea ( the Skipper ) and the Papilionoidea ( all other butterflies ).
Most butterflies are brightly coloured and diurnal ( day-flying ); however, the picture complicated by the Hedyloidea, which are small group of insects that in many ways bridge the gap between moths and butterflies. The skipper butterflies, of which there are about 3,400 species, also have many moth-like characteristics, such as the shape of their antennae and the form of their stocky bodies. Distinguishing between similar species of skipper can be extremely difficult and often requires the skills of an experienced taxonomist.