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Lepidoptera is an order of insects that includes moths and butterflies (both called lepidopterans). It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world. The term was coined by Linnaeus in 1735 and is derived from Ancient Greek λεπίδος (scale) and πτερόν (wing). Lepidopteran species are characterized by more than three derived features, some of the most apparent being the scales covering their bodies and wings, and a proboscis. The scales are modified, flattened "hairs", and give butterflies and moths their extraordinary variety of colors and patterns. Almost all species have some form of membranous wings, except for a few that have reduced wings or are wingless. Like most other insects, butterflies and moths are holometabolous, meaning they undergo complete metamorphosis. Mating and the laying of eggs are carried out by adults, normally near or on host plants for the larvae. The larvae are commonly called caterpillars, and are completely different from their adult moth or butterfly forms, having a cylindrical body with a well-developed head, mandible mouth parts, three pairs of thoracic legs and from none up to five pairs of prolegs. As they grow, these larvae change in appearance, going through a series of stages called instars. Once fully matured, the larva develops into a pupa A few butterflies and many moth species spin a silk case or cocoon prior to pupating, while others do not, instead going underground. A butterfly pupa, called a chrysalis, has a hard skin, usually with no cocoon. Once the pupa has completed its metamorphosis, a sexually mature adult emerges.

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