Moth

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A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth (about ten times the number of species of butterfly), with thousands of species yet to be described.[1] Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are crepuscular and diurnal species.

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Differences between butterflies and moths

Moths are not easily differentiated from butterflies. Sometimes the name "Heterocera" is used for moths while the term "Rhopalocera" is used for butterflies to formalize the popular distinction; these, however, have no taxonomic validity. Many attempts have been made to subdivide the Lepidoptera into groups such as the Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Frenatae and Jugatae, or Monotrysia and Ditrysia. Failure of these names to persist in modern classifications is because none of them represents a pair of "monophyletic groups". The reality is that butterflies are a small group that arose from within the "moths" (being considered as part of Ditrysia of the Neolepidoptera).[2] There is thus no way to group all of the remaining taxa in a monophyletic group, as it will always exclude that one descendant lineage.

Etymology

The Modern English word "moth" comes from Old English "moððe" (cf. Northumbrian "mohðe") from Common Germanic (compare Old Norse "motti", Dutch "Mot" and German "Motte" all meaning "moth"). Perhaps its origins are related to the Old English "maða" meaning "maggot" or from the root of "midge" which until the 16th century was used mostly to indicate the larva, usually in reference to devouring clothes.

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