Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 42 results
Media
Several regal fritillaries feeding on butterfly weed
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 700 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Learn about butterflies and skippers as a group. What makes a butterfly a butterfly? How are they different from moths? What are the major groups of butterflies?
Media
Photo of a Common Checkered Skipper
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrgus communis
Description
The white and black checkered pattern makes this a simple identification. The common checkered skipper is the only checkered skipper in Missouri.
Media
Photo of a sod webworm adult moth on a window with hind end propped up
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 860 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Crambid snout moths are named for the mouthparts that project outward like a snout. They are very similar to the closely related family of pyralid moths.
Media
Photo of an eastern comma butterfly, wings spread, showing dorsal side of wings
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygonia comma
Description
The eastern comma is named for a small white mark on the underside of the hindwing. It flies spring through fall, and even in winter, on warm, sunny days.
Media
Photo of two bagworm bags on red cedar
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis
Description
The larvae of bagworm moths live in protective cases they make out of their own silk plus plant materials or other debris. These spindle-shaped cases dangle from the food plants they’re eating.
Media
Photo of a falcate orangetip nectaring on a spring beauty flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anthocharis midea
Description
Falcate orangetip males are unmistakable with their small size, white coloration, and orange wingtips. Look for them in open woodlands in April.
Media
Adult fall webworm moth resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hyphantria cunea
Description
Fall webworm moths may be either completely white or have varying amounts of dark spots. The larvae are hairy caterpillars that live communally in late summer and fall in tentlike webs on the branch tips of trees.
Media
A wavy-lined emerald moth resting on a glass window
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 250 species recorded for Missouri
Description
Geometrid moths usually hold their wide wings spread flat against the surface they’re resting on. The caterpillars in this large family are twig mimics; called inchworms or loopers, they “walk” by humping their backs.
Media
Polyphemus Moth, Belton MO
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 75 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Missouri has 16 species of saturniid, or giant silkworm moths. Many of them are spectacular, including the cecropia, luna, buck, io, imperial, polyphemus, rosy maple, spiny oakworm, and royal moths.
Media
Gray comma perched on a flower, winged closed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygonia progne
Description
The gray comma is easy to ID if you can see the underside: it is charcoal gray with many fine dark streaks, and its comma marking is L-shaped and narrows to a fine point at each end.
See Also
Media
image of Caddisfly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Adult caddisflies are mothlike. Their larvae are aquatic and build portable, protective cases out of local materials, including grains of sand, bits of leaves and twigs, and other debris.
Media
Photo of eastern dobsonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Adult eastern dobsonflies are huge and mothlike, with large wings and a weak, fluttery flight. The fiercely predaceous aquatic larvae, called hellgrammites, are well-known to anglers, who often use them as bait.

About Butterflies and Moths in Missouri

Butterflies, skippers, and moths belong to an insect order called the Lepidoptera — the "scale-winged" insects. These living jewels have tiny, overlapping scales that cover their wings like shingles. The scales, whether muted or colorful, seem dusty if they rub off on your fingers. Many butterflies and moths are associated with particular types of food plants, which their caterpillars must eat in order to survive.