Butterfly Anatomy

Butterflies are made up from 3 main parts – Head, Thorax and Abdomen.

Below is a diagram of the external morphology of a typical butterfly.

Morphology of a butterfly 1. Antennae
2. Compound Eye
3. Head
4. Proboscis
5. Thorax
6. Tibia
7. Tarsus
8. Femur
9. Abdomen
10. Hindwing
11. Forewing
12. Outer Margin
13. Coastal Margin
14. Nerve
15. Cell

Butterflies have two short legs at the front and four longer legs at the back.

Here are the definitions of each butterfly part.

  1. Antennea – the antennae is a sensory appendage that is attached to the head of adult insects. Antennae are used for the sense of smell and balance. Butterflies have two antennae with little round balls on the ends.

  2. Compound Eye – butterfly compound eyes are made up of many hexagonal lenses just like other insect compound eyes.

  3. Head – the head is the part of the insect that contains the brain, two compound eyes, the proboscis and the pharynx (the start of the digestive system). The two antennae are attached to the head.

  4. Proboscis – adult butterflies sip nectar and other liquids using a spiral, straw-like proboscis located on their head. When not in use, the proboscis is coiled up like a garden hose pipe.

  5. Thorax – the thorax is the body section between the head and the abdomen. The legs and wings are attached to the thorax.

  6. Tibia – the tibia is the larger of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates.

  7. Tarsus – the tarsus is a foot complex connected at the end of the tibia. Some insects have tarsi claws attached to the tarsus.

  8. Femur – the femur is the thigh bone.

  9. Abdomen – the abdomen is the segmented tail area of an insect that contains vital organs such as the heart, Malpighian tubules, reproductive organs and most of the digestive system.

  10. Hindwing – the hind wings are the two lower wings.

  11. Forewing – the fore wings are the two upper wings.

  12. Outer Margin – outer part of the wing.

  13. Coastal Margin – projecting line on the side of a butterflys wing.

  14. Nerve – projecting line on the wing.

  15. Cell – part of the butterflys wing outlined by the wing veins.