What is the difference between a Moth and Butterfly?

Moths VS butterflies...

Moths and butterflies have a lot in common it can be hard to tell the difference. Check out these key differences. 



  • Shorter "fuzzy" or saw like antenna

Moth "Fuzzy" antenna

  • Moths tend to prefer feeding at night but can be seen during the day
  • Moths tend to have more neutral wing colors
  • Moths tend to rest with their wings in a "tent" or open 

Gypsy moth resting

  • Moths form cocoons a silk like case around their body to prepare to for their metamorphosis or transformation from caterpillar to moth

Virginia Tiger Moth Cocoon


  • Long smooth, curved Antenna with small bulb at the top

Butterfly "smooth" antenna

  • Butterflies prefer daylight and hide / sleep at night 
  • Butterflies tend to have brightly colored wings
  • Butterflies tend to rest their wings up or over their body

Monarch butterfly resting

  • Butterflies form chrysalis which is the the final molt of the caterpillar, to form a hard shell around the body.

Monarch Butterfly chrysalis

Fun Facts about moths and butterflies

The Atlas Moth (pictured below) is considered the largest moth in the world. The Atlas Moth can be found in the Malay Archipelago. The Atlas Moth can be larger than a songbird with a wingspan least 1 foot across.

The Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly (pictured below) is considered one of the world's smallest butterflies. The Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly can be found in North America.  The Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly has a wingspan of 12-22mm, which is about the size of a US dime.

Atlas Moth, considered the largest moth in the world

Western pygmy blue