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Arthropods make up the largest phylum of animals (Phylum Arthropoda) and include the insects, arachnids, crustaceans and others. More than 80% of described living animal species are arthropods, with over a million modern species described and a fossil record reaching back to the late Proterozoic era. Arthropods are common throughout marine, freshwater, terrestrial, and even aerial environments, and includes various symbiotic and parasitic forms. They range in size from microscopic plankton (~¼ mm) up to forms several metres across. Arthropods are characterised by the possession of a segmented body with appendages on each segment. They have a dorsal heart and a ventral nervous system. All arthropods are covered by a hard exoskeleton made of chitin, a polysaccharide which protects against trauma and desiccation. They shed this covering periodically when moulting.

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A butterfly with labels on various body parts.
The external morphology of Lepidoptera is the physiological structure of the bodies of insects belonging to the order Lepidoptera, also known as butterflies and moths. Lepidoptera are distinguished from other orders principally by the presence of scales on the external parts of the body and appendages, especially the wings. Butterflies and moths vary in size from microlepidoptera only a few millimetres long, to conspicuous animals with a wingspan of many inches, such as the Monarch butterfly and Atlas moth.

The larvae – caterpillars – have a toughened (sclerotised) head capsule, chewing mouthparts, and a soft body, that may have hair-like or other projections, 3 pairs of true legs, and up to 5 pairs of prolegs.

Adults have a hardened exoskeleton, except for the abdomen which is less sclerotised. Their mouthparts include a prominent proboscis formed from maxillary galeae, and are adapted for sucking nectar. They have two immobile, multi-faceted compound eyes, and only two simple eyes or ocelli. Antennae are prominent and besides the faculty of smell, act as olfactory radar, and also aid navigation, orientation and balance during flight.

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Potamon ibericum (Decapoda: Potamidae)

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Credit: KarlR

Longhorn beetles (Saperda carcharias pictured) are a cosmopolitan family of beetles, Cerambycidae, characterised by extremely long antennae. It is a large family, with over 20,000 described species; several are serious pests, with the larvae boring into wood.


indicates an extinct taxon.


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Here are some tasks you can do:

  • Start a new article. Arthropods cover an huge range of taxa and other topics, so there will always be plenty of missing articles. Some which have been explicitly requested are listed here.
  • Clean up existing articles. Lists of articles needing cleanup are available either grouped by the work needed or ungrouped.
  • Expand an existing article. Existing articles are often incomplete and missing information on key aspects of the topic. It is particularly important that the most widely read articles be broad in their scope. Wikipedia:WikiProject Arthropods/Popular pages (updated monthly) shows the number of views each article gets, along with assessments of its quality and importance. Articles with higher importance ratings and greater numbers of views are the priority for article improvements, but almost all our articles would benefit from expansion. Stubs can be found in Category:Arthropod stubs and its subcategories.


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Arthropoda on Wikispecies Arthropoda on Wikimedia Commons Arthropods on Wikiquote Arthropoda on Wikibooks Arthropoda on Wiktionary
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