Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 55 results
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 an unidentified grass skipper
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 275 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
At first glance, skippers look halfway between butterflies and moths. They are commonly seen darting among the flowers they visit on hot summer days.
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
Forage looper moth perched on a brick wall, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 12,000 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Learn about moths as a group. What makes a moth a moth? How are moths different from butterflies? What are the major groups of moths?
Media
Photo of an Eight-Spotted Forester on a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Alypia octomaculata
Description
The eight-spotted forester is a spiffy, butterfly-like moth. It is a fast, darting flyer and dazzles the eye when it flitters around flowers.
Media
Photo of a leaffolder moth visiting a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Desmia spp.
Description
There are nine species of leaffolder moths in North America, and even specialists must labor to separate them.
Media
Image of a silver-spotted skipper
Species Types
Scientific Name
Epargyreus clarus
Description
In a large, global family of several thousand species, the silver-spotted skipper is one of the easiest to identify in our state.
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
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
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.
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.