Differences Between Moths and ButterfliesMoths are not easily differentiated from butterflies, some differences are:
- The most obvious difference is in the feelers, or antennae. Most butterflies have thin slender filamentous antennae which are club shaped at the end. Moths, on the other hand, often have comb-like or feathery antennae, or filamentous and unclubbed.
- Many moths have a frenulum which is a filament arising from the hindwing and coupling (matching up) with barbs on the forewing. The frenulum can be observed only when a specimen is in hand. Some moths have a lobe on the forewing called a jugum that helps in coupling with the hindwing. Butterflies however lack these structures.
- Most moth caterpillars spin a cocoon made of silk within which they metamorphose into the pupal stage. Most butterfly caterpillars, on the other hand, form an exposed pupa, also termed a chrysalis.
- Most butterflies have bright colours on their wings. Nocturnal moths on the other hand are usually plain brown, grey, white or black and often with obscuring patterns of zigzags or swirls which help camouflage them as they rest during the day. However many day-flying moths are brightly-coloured, particularly if they are toxic. A few butterflies are also plain-colored, like the Cabbage White butterfly.
- Moths tend to have stout and hairy or furry-looking bodies, while butterflies have slender and smoother abdomens. Moths have larger scales on their wings which makes them look more dense and fluffy. Butterflies on the other hand possess fine scales. This difference is possibly due to the need for moths to conserve heat during the cooler nights whereas butterflies are able to absorb solar radiation.
- Most moths are nocturnal or crepuscular while most butterflies are diurnal.
- Moths usually rest with their wings spread out to their sides. Butterflies frequently fold their wings above their backs when they are perched although they will occasionally "bask" with their wings spread for short periods.