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Insect Identification

Butterflies and Moths

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/25/2014

While butterflies please many onlookers, moths are generally viewed as pesky insects.

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Butterflies (and the related Skippers) are the quintessential summertime insect across North America, representing 760 complete species while a full 12,000 are known to roam North America and some 165,000 have been categorized worldwide. Moths are similar creatures and their differences abound but all of these insects fall under the encompassing order name of Lepidoptera. Similarities between Butterflies and Moths include their scale-like hairs that cover their respective bodies and deliver their various recognizable patterns and colors along the wings that we see. Nearly all species have a long, coiled tongue known as a proboscis which allows them to suck nectar and pollen (among other food sources depending on species).


There are a total of 58 North American Butterflies and Moths in the Insect Identification database. Entries are listed below in alphabetical order.



1
Ailanthus Webworm Moth
The definitive coloring and stripes on this moth make it unique among Webworm Moths. They tuck and roll their wings close to ...
2
American Lady Butterfly
the American Lady butterfly is a member of the Brush-footed butterfly family. She is related to the Painted Lady, the Red Ad...
3
Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth
The Banded Woollybear Caterpillar Moth gets its descriptive name from the appearance of the caterpillar, not the adult moth. ...
4
Black Swallowtail
The Black Swallowtail looks almost identical to the pungent-tasting Pipevine Swallowtail. This mimicry is a good defense agai...
5
Black Witch Moth
A member of the Lesser Underwing Moth family, the Black Witch makes up for a lack of flashy wing color by growing to an enorm...
6
Cabbage White Butterfly
The white wings of this species have charcoal gray tips. Males have 1 black spot on the center of each forewing, while female...
7
Clouded Sulphur
The medium-sized Clouded Sulphur butterfly can be seen flying in meadows, near puddles, along roads, in parks, crop fields, g...
8
Clymene Haploa Moth
Unlike most moths, the Clymene Haploa Moth does not shy away from sunshine. It is equally active both day and night. They al...
9
Common Buckeye Butterfly
The Common Buckeye is a member of the diverse Brush-footed Butterfly family. This means it is related to the Monarch, Vicero...
10
Dingy Cutworm Moth
The unremarkable colors of this moth helped name it, but the pattern on it is distinctive. The yellowish kidney shaped spot ...
11
Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth
The Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth gets its name based on the behavior of its caterpillars. Together, a cluster of young cate...
12
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have a bright tiger-like striping pattern on their wings. Males have a mostly-yellow coloring wit...
13
Eastern-tailed Blue Butterfly
The Eastern-Tailed Blue Butterfly is a member of the Gossamer-Winged Butterfly group. They appear light and airy, floating t...
14
Edwards Glassy Wing Moth
The wings on this moth shimmer in the light, giving them the appearance of glass. Its pinkish red abdomen is visible when win...
15
Fiery Skipper
This species can be seen flying on grass (lawns), fields, bushes and forest openings. Though a butterfly, this small species ...
16
Forage Looper Moth
The Forage Looper Moth is brown on both forewing and hindwing. Some member of its family have brilliant and brightly colored...
17
Giant Leopard Moth
This white tiger moth has distinct black rings as well as black spots along its wings. They can grow to enormous sizes compa...
18
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
This is the largest species of butterfly in North America. The Giant Swallowtail is immense for butterflies. Seeing one can ...
19
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly
Adult Gray Hairstreak Butterflies can be seen in open fields, parks, woods and gardens in every state and province. When rest...
20
Great Tiger Moth
One would never expect a moth with the name Tiger to have coloration more in line with a giraffe. The Great Tiger Moth is a m...
21
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
This tropical butterfly has short hairs on its front legs, making it part of the 'brush-footed' butterfly family. They are fa...
22
Hag Moth
The Hag Moth is a member of the Slug Caterpillar Moth family. Many of the larvae (caterpillars) of these moths are visual od...
23
Himmelman's Plume Moth
Himmelman's Plume Moths have many distinct physical features helping observers make an identification. The long antennae are ...
24
Hoary Edge Skipper
This small butterfly can be found at the edges of forests or clearings from spring to autumn. "Hoary" means grayish-white an...
25
Hummingbird Moth
Fast beating wings and a furry body give the Hummingbird Moth the appearance of a small hummingbird, but the moth lacks the l...
26
Imperial Moth
Few moths have both the size and colors of the Imperial Moth. That said, the two genders tend to have different ratios of ye...
27
Julia Longwing Butterfly
The Julia Longwing Butterfly is a member of the diverse Brush-footed Butterfly family. This means it is related to the Monar...
28
Least Skipper
Unlike other grass skippers, the Least Skipper is not an excellent flyer. It flutters about, as if it is struggling to stay a...
29
Long-Tailed Skipper
The long 'tail's on the tips of each of Long-Tailed Skipper's forewings helped name this butterfly. It is the most prevalent ...
30
Luna Moth
This large, pale green Giant Silkmoth can be found in hardwood forests. Luna Moths are unique to North America. Their bright...
31
Lunate Zale Moth
Lunate Zales are extremely widespread throughout North America. They are large moths in the Owlet family. Their brown bodies...
32
Mimosa Yellow Sulphur
The Mimosa Yellow closely resembles the Barred Yellow Sulphur, which lacks dark dots that the Mimosa Yellow has. It also loo...
33
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterflies are a common sight throughout North America, with the exception of the extreme northern regions. Their or...
34
Mourning Cloak Butterfly
The Mourning Cloak Butterfly has very short front legs, like all its Brush-Footed kin. They are covered in short hairs akin ...
35
Pandorus Sphinx Moth
This hawk moth boasts a healthy size. Some hawk moths are occasionally mistaken for small birds. They are fast fliers and no...
36
Pearl Crescent Butterfly
Color variations within the species is usual, though all tend to be orange with brown and black markings. The small white sp...
37
Pipevine Swallowtail
This butterfly mimics the coloring the Spicebush and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. They have elongated 'tails' at the tips of th...
38
Plume Moth
Their thin body and 'T' shape make the Plume Moth unique. Their wings have the appearance of a bird's plume (feathers) and w...
39
Polka Dot Wasp Moth
Polka Dot Wasp Moths are common to tropical climates and make their North American home in the Southeastern United States, ap...
40
Polyphemus Moth
This member of the Giant Silk Moth family is both large and furry. The antennae are also feathery. Eyespots on the wing are ...
41
Regal Moth
Both striped and spotted, the Regal Moth can also add "large" to the list of characteristics to identify it. The orange and b...
42
Rustic Sphinx Moth
This striking, mammoth-sized moth is a member of the Sphinx family. The rich black and white speckled coloration of the Rust...
43
Saddleback Caterpillar
The Saddleback Caterpillar is covered in short hairs that sting when touched and contact can sometimes leave a rash on its hu...
44
Scarlet-Bodied Wasp Moth
Scarlet-Bodied Wasp Moths are members of the Tiger moth family. Like their relatives, they are colorful and brightly patterne...
45
Silver-Spotted Skipper
This ubiquitous skipper can be found in a diverse variety of habitats. They are very common everywhere in eastern North Ameri...
46
Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly
The medium-sized Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly has common orange/black/white coloration seen in many Crescent butterflies. A...
47
Slug Caterpillar Moth
The larval form (caterpillar) of the Slug Caterpillar Moth is unlike the typical, tubular caterpillar. Its flattened body is...
48
Small-Eyed Sphinx Moth
A member of the Hawk Moth family, the size of this species is startling. Females can average 3" while males are usually smal...
49
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Though this species looks and flies like a bee, it does not land on flowers as bees do. And though it has hair on it that may...
50
Southern Emerald Moth
This moth is a type of Geometer Moth, one of the largest moth families in North America. This particular species is quite co...
51
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
This species of butterfly can be found in gardens and at the edges of forests. Its coloration resembles that of the Pipevine ...
52
Tersa Sphinx Moth
The large, stiff wings of this moth may give it the appearance of a small bird. Tersa Sphinx Moths are hairy and angular, lik...
53
Tobacco Hornworm Moth
The name of the Tobacco Hornworm Moth originate from its appearance as a caterpillar. The green bodied, chubby, hairless cat...
54
Vine Sphinx Moth
The Vine Sphinx Moth has a sleek, striking pattern of lines and stripes on its forewings that is best observed when they are ...
55
Walnut Sphinx Moth
Native to deciduous woodlands, Walnut Sphinx Moths are highly common throughout Missouri with limited appearances in certain ...
56
Wasp Moth
This moth mimics the coloring of a wasp as a measure of protection. Predators are less likely to attack if they believe they...
57
White-lined Sphinx Moth
Sphinx moths are larger than most moths. The White-Lined Sphinx Moth is no exception. Their forewings are mostly brown but ...
58
Zebra Butterfly
A common sight in moist, tropical environments, the Zebra Butterfly can be found in that habitat all year round. It is highly...
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