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The Insects Portal

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Insects (from Latin insectum, a calque of Greek ἔντομον [éntomon], “cut into sections”) are a class within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae. They are among the most diverse group of animals on the planet and include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million, and potentially represent over 90% of the differing metazoan life forms on Earth. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species occur in the oceans, a habitat dominated by another arthropod group, the crustaceans.

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Sceliodes cordalis (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Crambidae)
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects, comprising an estimated 174,250 species in 126 families and 46 superfamilies. It is one of the most widely-recognisable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skippers, and moth-butterflies.

The term "Lepidoptera" was coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1735 and is derived from the Ancient Greek words λεπίδος (scale) and πτερόν (wing). Lepidopteran species are characterised by more than 20 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 colours and patterns. Butterflies and moths are holometabolous, meaning they undergo complete metamorphosis. Mating and the laying of eggs are normally carried out on or near the larval host plants. The larvae are commonly called caterpillars, and are markedly different from their adult moth or butterfly form, having a cylindrical body with a well developed head, mandible mouthparts, and 0–11 (usually 8) pairs of prolegs.

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Simosyrphus grandicornis is an Australasian species of hoverfly (Diptera: Syrphidae), and is one of the two most common hoverflies in Australia, alongside Melangyna viridiceps. Pictured above is a pair of S. grandicornis mating in flight.


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