The order Lepidoptera is large, with around 150,000 species in the world and over
2,500 in Britain. The order is commonly (but artificially) divided into
butterflies, macro-moths and micro-moths, although many of the micro's are
actually larger than some of the smaller macro's.
have two pairs of wings clothed in scales, but the females of some moths have
only vestigial (reduced) wings and are therefore flightless. The majority of
Lepidopteran species feed on nectar and other fluids by sucking them up
through a tube known as the proboscis. The proboscis is coiled under the head
when not in use. In contrast to this, some of the more ancient (least evolved)
species such as the small moths in the genus Micropterix have jaws and
feed on pollen. Other species, including some of the hawk-moths and tiger moths
do not feed in the adult stage and have no functional mouthparts.
the British butterflies are day-flying and are often differentiated by their
clubbed antennae, the antennae of some moths, including the burnet moths, are
also clubbed. Although most moths are nocturnal, there are as many
British moths to be found flying during the day as there are butterflies.
of colour is certainly not a way to distinguish the moths as many are just as
colourful as the brightest of butterflies. The Orange Moth Angerona
prunaria is the colour of orange peel, the Large Emerald Geometra
papilionaria is brilliant green and many of the micro-moths are