Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 41 results
Media
image of a Black-Waved Flannel Moth resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eleven species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The flannel moths are a small family, and only three species are usually found in Missouri. Adults are stout and very hairy and fluffy looking. Caterpillars have thick hair containing stinging spines.
Media
Photo of a Xanthotype geometer moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Xanthotype spp.
Description
“Zantho-tippies” are named for their yellow color (“xantho” means yellow). “Geometer” means earth-measurer, for their “inchworm” caterpillars.
Media
image of a Yellow-Fringed Dolichomia Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 680 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The pyralids are a large and diverse family of mostly small or medium-sized moths. They often look like they have snouts.
Media
image of a Rosy Maple Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dryocampa rubicunda
Description
The rosy maple moth has a variable coloration. In most cases, it is white or cream-colored, with some amount of pink at the outer and inner portions of the wings.
Media
Tortricid moth resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
At rest, tortricid moths often have a distinctive shape, resembling an arrowhead or a bell, with the forewing tips either squared-off or flared outward.
Media
image of Plume Moth on blade of grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 150 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Slim, delicate plume moths are instantly recognizable by their T-shaped silhouette, long legs, and muted shades of tan and brown. It can be hard to separate the various species.
Media
Coral hairstreak butterfly on butterfly weed flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Satyrium titus (syn. Harkenclenus titus)
Description
The coral hairstreak is the only Missouri hairstreak lacking hindwing “tails” and without a blue spot on the outer hindwing edge.
Media
Photo of a Morning-Glory Prominent moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schizura ipomoeae
Description
The morning-glory prominent is common but easily overlooked in Missouri’s woods. The caterpillars mimic curled, dead edges on the leaves they feed on, and the adults blend in with tree bark.
Media
image of an Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Malacosoma americana
Description
The silken tents of eastern tent caterpillars are conspicuous each spring in the forks of apple, cherry, and plum trees. The adult moths are brown with two pale stripes on the forewings.
Media
Photo of a monkey slug caterpillar on an oak leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 20 species in Missouri
Description
Adult slug caterpillar moths are heavy-bodied and furry. The weird-looking caterpillars have suckers instead of prolegs, so they glide around like slugs. Don’t touch — many have stinging spines or hairs.
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.