Moth or Butterfly?

Moth or Butterfly?

They both fly, they both have six legs and four wings, and sometimes it's really hard to tell them apart. That's not surprising since moths and butterflies are related. They belong to the order Lepidoptera. In Latin, Lepidoptera means scaly wing. This is an appropriate name since butterflies and moths are covered in small scales.

Close up photo of scales on a butterfly wing taken by Devin Connelly at Texas Discovery Gadrens

Close up photo of scales on a butterfly wing taken by Devin Connelly at Texas Discovery Gadrens

But, what are some of the differences between moths and butterflies? Let's examine a few ways to tell them apart. 

1. When did you see it? The time of day can help you decide if what you saw was a moth or a butterfly. Moths are nocturnal, which means they fly at night. Butterflies are diurnal and fly during the day.

2. Antenna. Moths have feathery antenna while butterfly antenna are straight.

3. Color. Butterflies are usually brighter than moths. There are exceptions. The Sunset moth, native to Madagascar) has bright pinks and greens on its wings.

Even moths that are not brightly colored are beautiful. Atlas moths, the largest species of Lepidoptera, have beautiful wing patterns. Luna moths and polythemus moths have intricate eye spots.

The Butterfly House at Texas Discovery Gardens in Fair Park is a great place to see both moths and butterflies! We are open every day from 10-5.