Butterfly vs Moth: Difference and Comparison

Insects belong to one of the largest groups of the Arthropoda phylum. Insects belong to a wide range of groups. There are millions of insects on earth. Almost half of the million species are living organisms.

Insects are found almost everywhere. They represent 90% of the living population. Insects hatch eggs go into the process of metamorphosis, and then develop as an adult.

Butterflies and moths also belong to the group of insects.

Key Takeaways

  1. Butterflies are diurnal, while moths are mostly nocturnal.
  2. Butterflies have slender, club-tipped antennae, whereas moths have feathery or filamentous antennae.
  3. Butterflies have more vibrant colors, while moths have duller hues.

Butterfly vs Moth

The difference between Butterflies and moths is that butterflies are active during the daytime. While the moth is a nocturnal insect, i.e., active during nighttime. Talking about the resting position, there is a difference between the two. Butterfly test with their wings closed. While moths rest with their wings open. The Antennae of Butterflies are different from moths. Butterflies have long ejected antennae. Moths have leaves and feathery antennae.


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Butterfly vs Moth

A butterfly is an insect that belongs to the family of Lepidoptera. Butterflies that develop into an adult have large colorful wings and fluttering flight.

They develop into an adult by undergoing four stages, i.e., larvae, caterpillar, pupate, and adult butterfly. Some of the butterflies require only the tropics to undergo the whole stage.

While some might require a whole year or several years to complete their life cycle, butterflies play an important role culturally in the literary and visual arts. 

Moths are different from butterflies. But they also belong to the order Lepidoptera. More than 16,000 species of moths have been discovered.

There are many moths that are yet to be described according to their characteristics. Moths are nocturnal insects.

But some of the species of moths are diurnal and crepuscular. Moths may develop into adult moths either through larvae or caterpillar stages. It is believed that they evolved long before butterflies came.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonButterflyMoth
Resting positionWings closedWings open
AntennaeLong and thinLeafy and feathery
Eyesapposition eyesSuperposition eyes
PupaeShiny ChrysalisSilky cocoon

What is a Butterfly?

The word butterfly comes from the Old Dutch and German languages. The meaning of a butterfly is that bright yellow male of brimstone or an insect found at the time of summer and spring.

The fossils of butterflies are very old, dating back to the period 200 million years ago, i.e., the Triassic-Jurassic period. Butterflies belong to the family of Lepidoptera.

The adult butterfly is characterized according to its four-scale wings that give butterflies their color.

Like every other insect, butterflies’ bodies are also divided into three parts, i.e., head, thorax, and abdomen. Butterflies have long, thin antennae that look like a club head.

Almost all species of butterflies are diurnal. They have very vibrant, beautiful colors. When their wings are in the resting position, it is vertically over the head.

They undergo four stages of metamorphosis to develop into an adult. The larvae and caterpillar of a butterfly have very hard heads that help them to cut their food like leaves.

Butterflies have the quality of camouflage. Sometimes their bright colors and projections may be toxic.

Many species of butterflies are sexually dimorphic, which means that the sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics. Butterflies are found almost everywhere on earth except in Antarctica.

More than 18,500 species of butterflies have been discovered. Many butterflies migrate to large distances. However, it takes many generations of them to complete the trip. They use the sun as a compass to navigate.


What is Moth?

The word moth originates from the German and Old English languages. The meaning of moth is a maggot. Then in the 16th century, its meaning was changed entirely.

Larvae and caterpillars of moths make shiny cocoons and then evolve into adult moths. Some of the moth caterpillars live underground until they are fully developed.

Moths were believed to have developed earlier than butterflies, some 190 million years ago. The ancestor of moths is believed to be Archaeolepis mane.

Moths hold significance to humans because they are used as pests in agriculture. Bellworms and corn borers are examples.

Gypsy moth caterpillars do much damage to the forests in the northeastern US. African sugarcane borer is used as a major pest in sugarcane, sorghum, and maize in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Moths are very notorious and are known for eating clothes and blankets that are made of silk and wool. Some of the moths are farmed for their economic value, like silkworms.

Because larvae of silkworms are domesticated.

Larvae of other species of moths are used as food in Africa because it is considered an important source of nutrition. Congo is the country where single-handedly, 30 species of moth larvae are harvested.

It is produced for local markets as well as for transporting to other nations. Many of the predators, like owls, bats, lizards, amphibians, cats, dogs, rodents, and some bears and birds, feed on moths.

Moths are very much attracted to artificial lights. But the reason for it is still unknown.


Main Differences Between Butterfly and Moths

  1. Butterflies in their resting position close their wings. While moths open their wings and rest.
  2. The antenna of the butterfly is long and thin, like a club head. The Antennae of the moth are leafy and feathery.
  3. The size of a butterfly is larger than a moth. The size of the moth is smaller than the butterfly.
  4. Butterflies have apposition eyes. Moths have a superposition eye.
  5. Pupae of butterflies are shiny chrysalis. Pupae of moths are silky cocoons.
  6. A frenulum is absent in butterflies. A frenulum is present in moths called a wing-coupling device.
Difference Between Butterfly and Moth
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079642514000772
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20023097521
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