Moths vs Butterflies: Difference and Comparison

Insects are something that we see every day. It is also said that there are millions of insects in our world.

Also, insects play a vital role in the environment by carrying the pollination process, and they are known as primary (or secondary) decomposers. People get confused between certain insects as they share a similar appearance.

Key Takeaways

  1. Moths have a more robust body and feathery antennae, whereas butterflies possess a slender body and club-shaped antennae.
  2. Butterflies are diurnal, active during the day, while moths are mainly nocturnal, active at night.
  3. Moths exhibit more subdued colors than butterflies, displaying bright, vibrant colors.

Moths vs Butterflies

Moths have feathery antennae, thick and hairy body, and a dull-colored pattern on their wings. Their wings are held flat over their bodies when at rest. Butterflies have thin, smooth antennae with a distinct club at the end, a slender body, and brightly coloured wings with intricate patterns. Their wings are held vertically over their backs when at rest.

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Moths are nocturnal insects and are belong to the Lepidoptera order (paraphyletic group). It is also said that they are around 16000 species of moth.

Some moths are said to be nocturnal, while some other moths are said to be diurnal or crepuscular. They have feathery and leafy antennae.

They produce a silky cocoon.

Butterflies are insects that belong to the Lepidoptera order. Their body is characterized into three main parts, known as the head, abdomen, and thorax.

These insects undergo four lifecycle stages in-order to become a butterfly. Unlike moths, the butterflies stay active during the day.

They have long and skinny antennae. They produce shiny chrysalis.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMothsButterflies
OrderMoths belong to the order Lepidoptera (paraphyletic group).Butterflies belong to the Lepidoptera order (Papilionoidea superfamily).
AntennaeThey have feathery antennae.They have long and skinny antennae.
Type of pupaeThey produce a silky cocoon.They produce shiny chrysalis.
NatureThey are nocturnal in nature.They are diurnal in nature.
RestingThey rest with their wings open.They rest with their wings closed.

What are Moths?

Moths are a type of insect that one may come across in their neighborhood very often. They belong to the Lepidoptera order and paraphyletic group.

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The Lepidoptera order contains almost 1,80,000 species. Moths come in a variety of colors.

They come in the color of brown.

 It is also said that there are around one lakh and sixty thousand varieties of moth species. Speaking of characteristics, the moths are nocturnal in nature, meaning they remain active throughout the night.

They also collect their food during the night. Speaking of their resting position, unlike butterflies, the moths rest with their wings open.

They have a feathery and short antenna.

Moths produce a type of silky cocoon. In terms of population percentage, the moths are said to occupy the highest percentage when compared to the butterflies.

Moths undergo a metamorphosis which is why they are known as the holometabolous. The lifespan of moths is said to be around 15 and 29 days.

Unlike butterflies, moths have less shiny and vibrant colored wings.

Their body is divided into three major parts known as the head, the thorax, and lastly, the abdomen. To conclude, both moths and butterflies share similar characteristics but have some unique features that set them apart. 

moth

What are Butterflies?

Butterflies are those insects that we may come across in their neighborhood very often. Moths and butterflies are two such insects that one may witness in their household, garden, neighboring area, etc.

Butterflies belong to the Lepidoptera order. They are part of the Papilionoidea superfamily.

Unlike moths, who are considered to be nocturnal insects, butterflies are said to be diurnal in nature, meaning they remain active during the day. Just like moths, the butterflies also have some unique characteristics.

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The butterflies produce shiny chrysalis pupa, whereas the moths produce a pupa known as the silky cocoon. The frenulum is absent in butterflies.

The butterflies collect food during the day. They have long and skinny antennae.

Also, they have apposition eyes.

Moths are smaller when compared with butterflies. To date, there are around 18,500 species of butterflies.

Just like the moths, the body parts of butterflies are divided into three parts known as the head, the thorax, and lastly, the abdomen. They undergo four lifecycle stages that include the egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa, and adult butterfly.

Interestingly, many butterfly fossils have been found, wherein some fossils are said to be very old (like 200 million years). Butterflies come in a variety of vibrant colors.

butterfly

Main Differences Between Moths and Butterflies

  1. Butterflies belong to the Lepidoptera order (Papilionoidea superfamily). On the other hand, moths belong to the Lepidoptera order (paraphyletic group).
  2. Moths have short and feathery antennae. On the other hand, the butterflies have long and skinny antennae.
  3. Speaking of pupae, the moths produce silky cocoons, whereas the butterflies produce shiny chrysalis.
  4. Moths are nocturnal in nature, meaning they are active during the night, whereas the butterflies are diurnal in nature.
  5. With regard to resting position, the moths rest with their wings open, whereas the butterflies rest with their wings closed.
  6. The moths collect their food during the night, whereas the butterflies collect their food during the day.
Difference Between Moths and Butterflies

References

  1. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/welcome/?target=%2fcabdirect%2fabstract%2f19850526301
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2406212

Last Updated : 05 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Moths vs Butterflies: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article is a great source for a student to gather information for their thesis! I loved how the author has meticulously compared the moths and butterflies based on various aspects.

    Reply
  2. The author employs a rather unembellished writing style, yet it does a remarkable job of clearly demarcating between the two categories of insects.

    Reply
  3. The article was quite illuminating and educational. The comparison table provides an excellent overview and makes it easy to understand the contrasts between moths and butterflies.

    Reply
  4. Very compelling and informative content. The stark differences between moths and butterflies are quite fascinating. Just a small correction, the spelling of ‘butterflies’ has an error in ‘their neighborhood’

    Reply
    • Jamie29, I totally agree with you! The error that you mentioned is quite minute, but I often find these things in other articles as well!

      Reply
    • Jamie29, it is an unbelievably well-written content that provides detailed information about moths and butterflies, really appreciated the effort of discussing all the different aspects of these insects.

      Reply
  5. The content has an informative tone. However, it should have included more scientific references to be considered academically enriching.

    Reply
    • Bennett Wayne, I concur with you. Academic integrity is crucial, and referencing would have certainly elevated the credibility of the post.

      Reply
  6. The thoroughly comprehensive analysis, presented in such a coherent manner, leaves no room for ambiguity. Frankly, I am impressed!

    Reply
    • Adams Sophie, your point about the clarity in the article is noteworthy. The lucid explanation has indeed made the subject matter more accessible to readers.

      Reply

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