Adults and caterpillars of butterflies, moths, and skippers are found in nearly all environments and are well known to everyone. Adults are characterized by having their wings and other parts of their body covered with a layer of short, flattened setae, or scales. The two pairs of wings are usually broad, subtrian-gular, and with the front pair larger. The mouthparts, when present, are a coiled proboscis or tube for siphoning liquid. The noctuid Calyptra eustrigata has a strong proboscis, which enables it to pierce the skin of mammals and suck blood. Moth antennae are usually thread-like or feather-like, while butterfly antennae are thread-like and clubbed at the tip. Butterflies fold their wings vertically above the body when at rest, while moths hold their wings rooflike or close around the body. They undergo complete metamorphosis.

Caterpillars are usually cylindrical, and besides the head there are three thoracic segments, and 10 abdominal segments. Thoracic segments bear a jointed leg, which terminates in a single claw. Abdominal segments bear unjointed, fleshy projections or prolegs. Typically there is one pair on segments 3-6, and 10, but some or all of the prolegs may be absent. Caterpillars have silk glands that open at the mouth; they use silk to make feeding shelters and to protect the pupal stage. Pupae are usually encased in a protective structure formed by the last caterpillar stage. This may be a silken cocoon, or detritus held together by silk secretions, a cell in the food substrate, a cavity in wood or other material adjacent to a food source, or an exposed chrysalid hanging from a tree branch. Lepidopterans feed primarily on flowering plants as caterpillars and adults. Mostadults are capable of obtaining only fluid from flowers and water from pools; some are inactive and may notfeed. Exceptions include geometrid moths in the genus Eup-ithecia, which are predaceous, clothes moth caterpillars which feed on wool, and adults of the noctuids Loboscraspis griseifusa and Arcyophora sylvatica, which scrape the skin of vertebrates to obtain blood.

Pest status for members of this group is based primarily on the damage they do to household stored foods and materials. Several species have adapted partly or completely to indoor habitats and to the food and fabric stored there. Most of them have been distributed around the world with commercial shipment of food and materials. In peridomestic habitats there are several species with urticating (poisonous or stinging) setae and they are capable of causing a skin rash or other physiological reaction in sensitive people. The few species that are known to feed as caterpillars in the wood oftrees, such as the carpenterworms (Cossidae), are only minor pests of wood in use.

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