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Last update: May 2021

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Scientific and socio-economic issues

The Lepidoptera order is the second most speciose order within the insect class (160,000 out of over 900,000 described species). This variety reflects a significant capacity for adaptation in terms of climate, continent or plant species. They appear along with the flowering plants they help pollinate. This order also includes some of the most destructive pests on the planet, attacking everything from cultivated plants to fruit and forest trees. In these environments, caterpillars feed on foliage, fruits, trunks or stems, forest litter or flowers. Interestingly, within several genera there are species that coexist which are phylogenetically very similar, where one may be a ubiquist polyphagous pest and the other a monophagous species of narrow geographical range.

One of the major discoveries of the last twenty years is the massive reduction in the number of moths and butterflies, most likely due to the gradual degradation of ecosystems, the intensification of agriculture or even global warming. Moths and butterflies are generally considered to be indicators of biodiversity. Furthermore, the need for a drastic reduction in the use of insecticides in Europe raises the question of new methods of controlling pest populations. These two challenges strongly bolster the fact that research on Lepidoptera is both a matter of general biology and agronomy.

In the network proposed, several species are undergoing a variety of research on

Population – Adaptation – Evolution - Phlyogeny

Ecology - Environment

Functional Genomics and Interaction (plants, insects, pathogens, parasitoids)

Physiology and Molecular Bases of Behaviour

Biological control.