On this map you see where there were observations of Butterflies and Moths around the world. This will give you an idea of the global distribution of this class. Note that a class can have many different families, and thousands of species.
Years 2000 until now, source: GBIF
The insect class Lepidoptera, which includes moths and butterflies, is an incredibly diverse group with over 160,000 known species. These insects are characterized by their scaled wings and a unique proboscis used for feeding on nectar or other liquid food sources. Lepidoptera is divided into numerous families and genera, with some of the most well-known families being Papilionidae (swallowtails), Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies), and Sphingidae (hawkmoths), among others.
Lepidoptera insects can be found in a wide range of countries across the globe, inhabiting diverse environments such as forests, grasslands, and urban areas. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
The life cycle of Lepidoptera insects consists of four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis or cocoon), and adult. The duration of each stage varies among species.
Female Lepidoptera lay their eggs on or near their preferred food source, depending on the species. Upon hatching, the caterpillars begin to feed and undergo several molts as they grow. Once they reach their final larval stage, caterpillars form a chrysalis or cocoon and undergo metamorphosis to become an adult butterfly or moth.
While adult Lepidoptera insects are not typically considered a primary food source for fish, their caterpillar stage is most relevant to fly fishing, particularly for trout and other insectivorous fish. Some well-known Lepidoptera larvae that are targeted by fly fishers include:
There can be thousands of species within an order, and therefore lots of different flies imitating various of these species. Flies can also imitate different stages, for example larvae, pupae and adults.
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Each order has an indication of its relevance to fly fishing:
= Not so relevant
= Somewhat relevant
= Most relevant
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