Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 40 results
Media
image of a Banded Tussock Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Halysidota tessellaris
Description
Adult banded tussock moths have a distinctive checkered pattern on the wings. The fuzzy, dirty gray caterpillars are more familiar, with their pencils or tussocks of longer, black and white hairs.
Media
Image of a Cecropia moth.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hyalophora cecropia
Description
The cecropia moth looks a lot like butterfly ― but note its feathery antennae and stout, hairy body. This is the largest moth native to North America.
Media
Photo of a Celery Looper taking nectar from a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anagrapha falcifera
Description
Adult celery looper moths look like dead leaves. A closer look reveals subtly gorgeous, ornate patterns on the wings.
Media
Photo of a Chickweed Geometer
Species Types
Scientific Name
Haematopis grataria
Description
The colorful chickweed geometer moth flies during the day like a butterfly. It’s called a geometer (“earth measurer”) because the larvae are “inchworms” that loop their bodies with each “step” they take.
Media
A photo of a Clover Looper.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Caenurgina crassiuscula
Description
Adult clover loopers have distinctive tan mottled markings with brown bands. They typically fold their wings down their backs. The caterpillars eat clovers.
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
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
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
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.
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.