Striking Differences Between A Moth And A Butterfly

Difference between moths and butterflies
Butterflies and moths typically resemble one another, and their classification stays slightly obscure. However there are some differences between them too.
Did You Know?
Butterflies and moths have much more in widespread than in distinction. Evolutionarily, they’re very intently associated, largely feed on the identical meals, and each have wings fabricated from modified hair within the form of scales.


Differences Between Moths And Butterflies

Butterflies and moths are members of the order Lepidoptera. The classification of the order Lepidoptera is just not subject to scrutiny, however the classification inside the order continues to be sketchy. The principle downside for Lepidoptera classification is that butterflies are an evolutionary subgroup of moths. Because of this although butterflies may be categorised as a monophyletic suborder―Rhopalocera is the accepted conference―moths cannot be grouped as a lineage without together with butterflies.

So, moths and butterflies are nonetheless categorised solely vaguely. So as to add to it, the bodily markers usually used to distinguish between the 2, have outstanding exceptions. The query of differentiating between moths and butterflies stands on shaky grounds, at greatest.

Nevertheless, bodily traits can indeed be used to tell apart moths from butterflies, albeit with exceptions, for the reason that majority of 1 class often share a characteristic unseen within the different.

Variations Between Moths and Butterflies 


Probably the most prominent indicators of butterflies comes within the type of their antennae. The butterfly household, Rhopalocera, is actually named from the traditional Greek phrases rhopalon and ceras/caeras, which means ‘membership’ and ‘horn’ respectively. The antennae of butterflies are slender and just about always finish in a curled ball, called a membership. Moth antennae, however, all the time lack the membership on the finish, and are often feathery or bushy in look. The feather construction on most moth antennae actually superficially resembles leaves. The looks of the antennae is the one universally noticed distinction between butterflies and moths.

Resting Place

Butterflies and moths can often be appropriately recognized by observing their resting pose. Butterflies often relaxation with their wings raised upwards together. In distinction, moths relaxation with their wings flat on the bottom. Alternately, and mostly when house is at a premium, moths relaxation with their wings folded collectively.
Butterfly resting position
Moth resting position

Physique Kind

This can be a very subjective marker, however effective nonetheless. Moths have stout our bodies, and their undersides are often bushy. In contrast, butterflies have slender our bodies with out hair.
Butterfly flying
Moth flying
Moth sitting


Butterflies are famously colourful, and may be found in many alluring mixtures of assorted shades. Moths, however, are usually drab, and are coloured in plain browns, blacks, and whites. Nonetheless, there are notable exceptions to the latter, since many moths, saturniid moths particularly, may be vividly coloured and intensely interesting. On this case although, the general public perception about butterflies and moths is often appropriate.
Colorful butterfly
Blue Color butterfly
Colorful moth
Catocala fraxini moth

Technique of Metamorphosis

Monarch caterpillar
Each butterflies and moths are born as caterpillars. The caterpillars then feed for several days/weeks, earlier than reworking into an grownup butterfly or moth. This transformation is called metamorphosis. Butterfly larvae obtain metamorphosis through the stage of a chrysalis, whereas moth larvae want a cocoon. The difference between the 2 is chrysalis is a brand new layer of pores and skin, whereas a cocoon is an exterior construction. When a butterfly larva is ready to pupate, it attaches itself to a tree/leaf, and sheds its pores and skin, revealing the laborious chrysalis beneath. Cocoons, however, are proactively constructed by the larvae earlier than pupating. The cocoons shown within the picture are that of silkworms, Bombyx mori.

Interval of Exercise

Butterflies are diurnal, i.e., they’re energetic throughout the day. Moths are famously nocturnal. Nevertheless, many moths are additionally lively at twilight hours, and likewise throughout broad daylight. Butterflies are very hardly ever lively throughout the evening. As a rule of thumb, although, in the event you see it on a heat spring afternoon, it’s almost actually a butterfly. If it expenses at your lantern at evening, it is nearly certainly a moth.


Most moths have a singular anatomical function known as a frenulum. They’ve an association that enables them to lock their entrance and rear wings. It consists of a hook on the rear wing that attaches to the front wing in a way just like Velcro. Not all moths have this locking system, however butterflies don’t have it in any respect.
Distinguishing between butterflies and moths is greatest performed on a trial-and-error foundation. The antennae are, without doubt, essentially the most distinguished distinguishing issue, however simply observable superficial indicators such because the resting place and coloration are, most of the time, an correct information. Extra importantly although, moths outnumber butterflies by such an enormous margin (nearly 90% of the order Lepidoptera is made up of moths) that it’s statistically more likely that the creature you encounter could be a moth slightly than a butterfly.