The Parts of a Butterfly

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Butterfly Diagram

Parts of a butterfly.
Parts of a butterfly. Photo: Flickr user B_cool (CC license); modified by Debbie Hadley, WILD Jersey

Whether large (like a monarch butterfly) or small (like a spring azure), butterflies share certain morphological features. This diagram highlights the basic common anatomy of an adult butterfly or moth.

  1. fore wing - the anterior wings, attached to the mesothorax (the middle segment of the thorax).
  2. hind wing - the posterior wings, attached to the metathorax (the last segment of the thorax).
  3. antennae - pair of sensory appendages, used primarily for chemoreception.
  4. head - the first section of the butterfly or moth body. The head includes the eyes, the antennae, the palpi, and the proboscis.
  5. thorax - the second section of the butterfly or moth body. The thorax consists of three segments, fused together. Each segment has a pair of legs. Both pairs of wings also attach to the thorax.
  6. abdomen - the third section of the butterfly or moth body. The abdomen consists of 10 segments. The final 3-4 segments are modified to form the external genitalia.
  7. compound eye - large eye that senses light and images. The compound eye is a collection of thousands of ommatidia, each of which acts as a single lens of the eye.
  8. proboscis - mouthparts modified for drinking. The proboscis curls up when not in use, and extends like a drinking straw when the butterfly feeds.
  9. fore leg - first pair of legs, attached to the prothorax. In brush-footed butterflies, the fore legs are modified and not used for walking.
  10. mid leg - the middle pair of legs, attached to the mesothorax.
  11. hind leg - the last pair of legs, attached to the metathorax.