The Order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) includes about 160,000 described species, of which about 3,000 species occur in Florida. The larvae, caterpillars, feed mainly on plants, and as such, the order is the most diverse radiation of primarily phytophagous organisms.
Moths and butterflies have scales on their wings, a coiled proboscis to drink fluids, and prolegs on the larval abdomen. The order includes many economically important species, model organisms, biological control agents of weeds, and species of conservation concern.
The Lepidoptera specimens of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods are curated together with those of the Florida Museum of Natural History, in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Gainesville, Florida. The combined collection is estimated at over 10,000,000 pinned specimens, 30,000 vials of larvae, and 20,000 dissection slides, making it one of the largest Lepidoptera collections in the world. Strengths include the Southeastern United States, the Caribbean region, Central and western South America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The FSCA Lepidoptera especially benefited from regional and global collectors from the 1970s to the present.