Photo: Alves Gaspar

Moth or Butterfly?

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Although they are very similar, there are a few ways you can tell a moth from a butterfly.

The most obvious is when you are likely to see them. Butterflies are active during the day and most moths at night. Though there are a few moths, such as the Queensland Day Moth Alcides metaurus and the Jacob’s Coat Moth Agarista agricola, which fly during the day.

If you are able to take a closer look, the antennae of moths differ from that of butterflies. Butterfly antennae are mostly smooth and thin with a small club on the end. Moth antennae are usually brush-like, feathery or pointed at the ends.

Another give away is their different landing styles – butterflies land with wings closed, and moths with wings open.

Moths are usually duller colours while butterflies are usually brighter colours.

Moths also have fully developed forelegs, whereas butterflies have reduced forelegs, with the end segments missing.

Click to read a full list of differences between moths and butterflies here.


Identify your moth from pictures by clicking here.


Identify your butterfly from pictures by clicking here.

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