Page:De Vismes Kane-European Butterflies.djvu/16

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INTRODUCTION.

habits of the order of insects which forms the subject of this volume, as well as the several parts of their bodies of which we shall have to speak. Every one is more or less familiar with these graceful creatures, whose flight and colouring add so much to our sense of the luxuriance of summer beauty. Their scientific name is derived from the feather-like scales which, lightly attached to the membrane of their wings, produce the varied colours by which they are distinguished.

From the Greek words lepis and ptera (scale- wings) is derived the term Lepidoptera which attaches to the whole tribe of butterflies and moths.

But these two popular subdivisions are also adopted by science, though the distinction between the two has to be somewhat arbitrarily fixed, since some species of each partake of the characteristics of the other division; and this is even more true of the tropical fauna. The scientific terms of Rhopalocera (rhopalon, a club) and Heterocera (heteron, different) are applied to butterflies and moths respectively, since the former have straight clubbed antennae and the latter those of other shapes. The question is frequently asked, “What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth ?” and the answer may be given as follows : Rhopalocera (butterflies) have straight antennae more or less clubbed at the tip, and which cannot be folded up and hidden away like those of moths. The wings stand pressed together and erect over the back when the insect is at rest, and the hind wings cannot be rolled up like a fan, as is the case with those of the Heterocera moths). Farther, their eyes are not glossy ; the division between the thorax (or chest) and abdomen is deeply marked ; they fly by day only, and therefore are often styled “Diurnal Lepidoptera.” The Heterocera, or moths, have antennae of variable form, but not clubbed (except in the case of some