Butterflies and Moths

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Féileacáin agus Leamháin

Butterflies and moths are very closely related insects. Most moths have dull colours that will help to keep them hidden during the day, and most butterflies are colourful creatures. Sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference between them as some moths can be just as colourful as butterflies!

Here are some differences between butterflies and moths to help you identify which is which.

Butterfly Moth       
Usually seen during the day.                                                Usually seen at night-time.
Fold their wings above them vertically when resting. Usually fold their wings flat and close against their body, although some moths hold them vertically like butterflies.
Most butterflies have long antennae with a bubble-shape at the end. Most moths have feathery antennae that don't usually a have bubble-shape at the end.

What are antennae?

Antennae are a pair of flexible appendages that grow on the frontmost part of insects. Their main function is as a sensory organ. This means that the insect can sense touch, vibration, and possibly heat and smell as well.

Did you know that there are about 156,000 species of butterflies and moths in the world?! Most of these are moths, and only about 20,000 of them are butterflies.

Life Cycle

The butterfly and moth have four very different stages in their life cycle. The change in appearance between each stage is so great that it is difficult to believe that one can change into the other!

The egg (ovum) changes into a caterpillar (larva), which in turn becomes a pupa (chrysalis). Eventually, the pupa develops into either the adult butterfly or the adult moth, that you can see fluttering through your garden.

This change from one life cycle stage to another is called metamorphosis.