Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 63 results
Media
American snout butterfly resting with wings folded
Species Types
Scientific Name
Libytheana carinent
Description
Most of us identify butterflies by their color patterns, but you can ID the American snout by its long “nose.”
Media
Photo of a mourning cloak butterfly perched on a strand of barbed wire.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nymphalis antiopa
Description
The unmistakable mourning cloak is a familiar woodland butterfly in Missouri. Adults hibernate and are sometimes seen flying on warm, sunny days in winter.
Media
image of a Tawny Emperor, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asterocampa clyton
Description
The tawny emperor is less common than the hackberry emperor and has a rustier coloration. Both species feed on hackberry trees as caterpillars.
Media
Photo of a silvery checkerspot, Wings Folded
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chlosyne nycteis
Description
Black and orange above, paler below, the silvery checkerspot has a telltale wide white crescent in a brownish patch along the edge of the hindwing underside.
Media
Photo of a regal fritillary, perched on a flower, wings folded
Species Types
Scientific Name
Speyeria idalia
Description
The regal fritillary is a large, silver-spotted, orange and blackish-gray butterfly of our native tallgrass prairies. Because of its dwindling habitat and steeply declining numbers, it is a species of conservation concern in Missouri and nationally.
Media
image of a Checkered White, Twigs
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pontia protodice
Description
The checkered white is named for the charcoal-colored patterns on the white wings of adults. As with the closely related cabbage white, the larvae feed on plants in the mustard family.
Media
Photo of a Cabbage White
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pieris rapae
Description
A common butterfly in Missouri, the cabbage white was introduced in the 1800s from Europe and became a crop pest.
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
Tussock moth resting on a wooden board
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 30 species in subfamily Lymantriinae (formerly a family) in North America
Description
Tussock moths are named for the hairy caterpillars, which typically have distinct clumps of longer hairs. Adults do not eat, but the larvae of many species are serious pests.
Media
Photo of an Orange Wing moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mellilla xanthometata
Description
The orange wing moth’s bright orange hindwings identify it, even in flight. It’s abundant in all regions of Missouri.
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.