Difference between Moth and Butterfly Caterpillar

Imagine that a beautiful insect perches on your arm on a beautiful afternoon, while you relax in the backyard of your house. You can see that it has six legs and two antennae that are attached to a narrow body. With four large, delicate and magnificent green wings with red and yellow accents.  Difference between Moth and Butterfly Caterpillar

If you carefully touch one of the wings, you notice that a little dust has remained on your finger. It is obvious that it is an insect, be it a moth or a butterfly, but which of the two is it?

Butterflies and moths :  Difference between Moth and Butterfly Caterpillar

Butterflies and moths have a lot in common. Both belong to the order of the Lepidoptera, that is to say, to those of “wings with scales”. The name comes from those dust scales that these insects give off when they are touched. But butterflies and moths have more similarities besides their dusty wings.

Both insects begin life as hungry caterpillars, before transforming when they reach adulthood. Both feed on the nectar of flowers and supplement their diet with other liquids such as water or rotten fruit juice.

The difference between butterflies and moths is like the difference between frogs and toads , however, there are some basic characteristics that allow us to distinguish between them; although there are also exceptions to the rule. Next, let’s see what actually makes a butterfly different from a moth.

It is easy to think of moths as small insects that hover around light bulbs, but not all moths are small; The largest moth in the world is the Attacus atlas and has a wingspan of about one foot (30.5 centimeters), the largest butterfly Ornithoptera alexandrae can grow to be approximately the same size.

The differences between moths and butterflies fall into two categories: anatomical and behavioral. Most moths are nocturnal; that is, they fly and feed at night. On the other hand, butterflies are usually diurnal and active during the day. So if you see a winged insect feeding on a flower in the afternoon, it is most likely a butterfly; But if you see a winged insect hovering to make its way to the light in the middle of the night, it is very likely a moth.

When they rest, butterflies and moths often hold their wings differently. It is common to see moths with their wings covering their backs or spread out to the sides, but unless the butterflies are warming themselves in the sun; they usually keep their wings upright and folded; perpendicular to their backs.

Both butterflies and moths pupate, but they develop into adults in different ways; because unlike butterflies, moths tend to twirl a silk cocoon around their pupae and sometimes choose to camouflage them with leaves or debris.

The physical differences between the two insects, 

  1. The antennae of butterflies are wider at the tip. while those of moths look like small feathers.
  2. In most cases, it is the butterflies that exhibit the most vivid and attractive colors, this does not mean that the moths only have opaque colors: white, brown, gray; however, it is rare that they are otherwise.
  3. Many moths use a series of loops called retinacles and bridles that connect their hind wings to their front wings. Butterflies do not have these structures.
  4. Moths tend to have the fattest bodies compared to butterflies.

In conclusion, not all members of the order of the Lepidoptera perfectly fit into the category of butterfly or moth, because there are numerous butterflies with qualities of moths; just as there are many moths with butterfly qualities. An example of this are the jumping butterflies (known in English as skippers), which, although they fly during the day like butterflies; it usually has dull colors like moths. However, their patterns are neither butterflies nor moths.

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