Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature How to Tell the Difference Between a Butterfly and a Moth 6 Differences Between Butterflies and Moths Share Flipboard Email Print The luna moth is colorful, so many people think it's a butterfly. Flickr user Geoff Gallice (CC license) Animals & Nature Insects Basics Behavior & Communication Ants. Bees, & Wasps Beetles Butterflies & Moths Spiders Ticks & Mites True Bugs, Aphids, Cicadas, and Hoppers Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Marine Life Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Debbie Hadley Entomology Expert B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade. our editorial process Debbie Hadley Updated January 30, 2019 Of all the insect groups, we are probably most familiar with the butterflies and moths. We see moths fluttering around our porch lights, and watch butterflies visiting flowers in our gardens. There is no real taxonomic difference between butterflies and moths. Both are classified in the order Lepidoptera. This order contains over 100 families of insects worldwide, some of which are moths and some of which are butterflies. However, there are some differences in physical and behavioral characteristics that are easy to learn and recognize. As with most rules there are exceptions. For example, the luna moth is bright green and lavender, and not dull as suggested in the chart below. It does have feathery antennae, however, and holds its wings flat against its body. With a little practice, you should be able to recognize the exceptions and make a good identification choice. Differences Between Butterflies and Moths Insect Butterfly Moth Antennae rounded clubs on the ends thin or often feathery Body thin and smooth thick and fuzzy Active during the day during the night Color colorful dull Pupal Stage chrysalis cocoon Wings held vertically when resting held flat against body when resting Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Hadley, Debbie. "How to Tell the Difference Between a Butterfly and a Moth." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/difference-between-butterfly-and-moth-1968460. Hadley, Debbie. (2020, August 26). How to Tell the Difference Between a Butterfly and a Moth. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/difference-between-butterfly-and-moth-1968460 Hadley, Debbie. "How to Tell the Difference Between a Butterfly and a Moth." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/difference-between-butterfly-and-moth-1968460 (accessed July 27, 2021). copy citation Life Cycle of Butterflies and Moths Butterflies and Moths, Order Lepidoptera Characteristics of Giant Silkworm Moths and Royal Moths 10 Fascinating Facts About Moths 7 Insect Pollinators That Aren't Bees or Butterflies Luna Moth, Actias luna Habits and Traits of Owlet Moths Why Do Butterflies Gather Around Puddles? Metals Versus Nonmetals - Comparing Properties What Is the Difference Between...? The Parts of a Butterfly A Guide to the 29 Insect Orders 10 Ways to Identify an Insect Butterfly Houses in the US What Are Insects? Are Those Pests Sawfly Larva or Caterpillar?