Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 22 results
Media
Common buckeye butterfly nectaring on a flower, wings spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Junonia coenia
Description
The common buckeye is one of Missouri’s prettiest butterflies, but it doesn’t overwinter here. Instead, migrants arrive in late spring and early summer.
Media
Photo of a Black Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio polyxenes
Description
Most gardeners meet the black swallowtail sooner or later, because parsley, carrot, fennel, and dill are favorite food plants of the caterpillars.
Media
Photo of a Spicebush Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pterourus troilus
Description
Spicebush swallowtails are beautiful large black butterflies with beautiful iridescent blue-green on the hindwings. The caterpillars eat the leaves of sassafras and spicebush.
Media
Photo of a Pipevine Swallowtail, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Battus philenor
Description
The pipevine swallowtail is ignored by most predators because of its acrid body juices. Several other butterflies benefit by looking strikingly similar.
Media
Adult salt marsh moth resting on a vertical plant stem
Species Types
Scientific Name
Subfamily Arctiinae (formerly a family)
Description
Tiger and lichen moths, and their close relatives, often have bold patterns of black or white, plus yellow, orange, or red. Arctiid caterpillars are usually hairy, and some have stinging hairs.
Media
Photo of a male Io Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Automeris io
Description
The wings of male Io moths are usually yellow; those of females are reddish brown. When prodded, this moth parts its forewings to reveal hindwings with huge eyespots.
Media
Photo of a Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cisseps fulvicollis
Description
The yellow-collared scape moth is more often “orange-collared.” And whether you think it looks more like a firefly or a wasp, it’s still a moth!
Media
A white-lined sphinx moth sips nectar from a purple locoweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 50 species in Missouri
Description
Sphinx moths are usually large and heavy bodied, with a long, pointed abdomen. Members of this family often hover near flowers, feeding on nectar and looking like hummingbirds or bumblebees.
Media
Two spring azure butterflies resting and drinking moisture from a wet rock
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celastrina ladon
Description
The spring azure is among the first butterflies of the year. It occurs in a variety of habitats. The early spring appearance helps you identify it.
Media
Photo of an Eastern Tailed-Blue
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cupido comyntas
Description
You can find the eastern tailed-blue in Missouri in prairies, fields, vacant lots, and yards — virtually any open, sunny place.
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.