Moth vs Butterfly Best 10 Main Differences Explained

Moth vs butterfly

The order Lepidoptera includes butterflies and moths and other insects. Butterflies have dusty wings containing scales arranged in various colorful patterns. Butterflies use these tiny scales to shed them throughout their lifetime. The bodies of many butterflies include the tail (abdomen), the chest (thorax), and the head. The big flight muscles of butterflies are located on the thorax. Butterflies tend to hold wings folded up over their bodies till the time of rest. 

Some butterflies contain bulb or club-shaped tapering antennas or feathery antenna. The butterflies antennae are called clubbed antennae or thin antennae that are long in the middle, ending in a thicker lump. These butterfly antennae or clubbed antennae look like wire rather than being fuzzy. The caterpillar is a larva stage of most butterflies that tend to transform into chrysalis.

Similarly, the moths also belong to the order Lepidoptera. Many moths show the features of butterflies, such as day flying and brightly colored wings. In addition, moths contain feathery antennae, all resting with their wings flat. Moth wings with colorful patterns are smaller than drab-colored wings. Geometrid moths are moth species that possess broad wings and slender bodies. 

Moth vs butterfly

The physical differences between insect butterflies and moths include that butterflies form silkless, hard, and smooth chrysalises. In contrast, most moths tend to make a silky cocoon. In addition, not all moths fly at night time, but butterflies do. The other difference between moths and butterflies is the activity moths and butterflies. It includes that many moths are nocturnal, flying at night and are active during the day. While at rest, the insect butterflies are active diurnal species, flying during the day and resting at night. 

The caterpillars of both moths and butterflies pass through a metamorphosis from the pupa stage. Science says that moths and butterflies species undergo a complete metamorphosis from egg to caterpillars and then to adult. The major difference between moths and butterflies caterpillars is that the nocturnal moth caterpillar makes a cocoon, while butterflies make chrysalis at the pupa stage. The cocoon of an insect turns into either a butterfly or a moth. Both insects eat nectar from flowers of the flowering plants by capillary action. Flowers are the major source of their diet. 



Moths are present in various countries, including Oceania, South America, North America, Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Eurasia. These animals inhabit mountain zones, grasslands, dunes, lowland forests, wetlands, mangroves and salt marshes. 

These are the amazing insects that are present throughout the world except in Antarctica. The reason is that butterflies are warm blooded-creatures, not cold-blooded. Their habitat includes salt marshes, grasslands, wetlands, dunes, and mountain zones. 

These animal species vary greatly in size, with a wingspan ranging from 0.16 inches to almost 1 foot. Furthermore, the average weight of these small creatures is between 0.0001oz and 0.4 oz. 

Butterflies can be 18 inches and 12 inches in length. They can be yellow, green, red, or others. These are five times bigger than mosquitoes, with an average weight from 0.017oz to 0.019oz.

The diet of moths is natural fibers, including bedding, drapes, carpets, upholstery, and clothing. They will also eat other natural fibers such as cotton, silk, and wool. Moths also tend to feed on pet fur if no clothing fibers are left. 

These small creatures are highly restricted to a liquid diet due to their straw-like mouthparts. The butterflies drink sweet nectar from flowers using proboscis. The nectar sometimes gets resides deep within flowers allowing butterflies to reach the sugary treats. 

Although most moths are active at night (nocturnal), some are mostly active during the night (diurnal) and at twilight (crepuscular). 

They are mostly active during day time but find a hiding place at night to sleep. Therefore, these small creatures are diurnal that sleep during the night.

It is a fact that these small creatures do not have noses, but they still use their sense of smell to look for food plants and mates and to detect parasites and fungal diseases. They contain taste and smell receptor scales, called pits and bristles. 

The smell is the most important sense for butterflies. The sensors present on the antennas of these small creatures are highly adapted odors. The ends of their tongue contain taste buds, and females identify plants via sensory structures on their feet. 

The aggressive moth species can migrate for up to 113 miles per year and between 15 and 28 miles a year. They travel long distances, migrating to all countries except Antarctica, including within or from tropical and subtropical areas.

Butterflies migrate for distances between 50 and 100 miles a day, completing their journey in approximately two months. Furthermore, 265 miles per day is the farthest range of monarch butterflies being recorded. 

According to a new study, the good-tasting moths’ species increase their survival chances via mimicking their bad-tasting cousins’ sounds in a night sky filled with hungry bats. 

These animal species tend to mimic colors, shapes and wing patterns of various other species that are harmful to predators. They mimic to take any form and avoid being eaten.

Various adult moths benefit different wildlife animals, including bats, toads, birds, insects, spiders, etc. It was published in Biology letters that moth pollen transporters are more complex and larger than daytime pollinators. 

As butterflies require to feed on nectar and are attracted to bright flowers, they are great and beneficial for our gardens. In addition, it will help greatly various flowers, vegetables, and fruits to produce new seeds.

Some adults have an average lifespan of a week, while others live for 10 months or their whole life. 

They live for a specific time, after which they die. For instance, a Painted lady lived for 15 to 129 days. 

The predators of these small creatures include spiders, lizards, bats, and birds. 

Small mammals, lizards, birds, spiders, and other insects are predators. 


Sometimes people get confused and raise questions relating to moth vs. butterfly to clear their minds. Therefore, the answers to some of those questions are as given below;

What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Moths hold their wings in a tent-like fashion, hiding the abdomens, while butterflies fold their wings vertically over their backs. 

Are moths harmful?

These are not such harmful pests but can cause a little damage to food, clothing, and other belongings. In addition, they can be a nuisance to the allergic symptoms. 


Many animals are present worldwide, all possessing unique identification features to get discriminated against each other. The same happens with moths and butterflies. This blog post has provided exciting facts and information regarding moth vs. butterfly to clear your minds. It will help greatly if you read this article carefully. 

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