Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 35 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.”
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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 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
image of a Dagger Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 2,500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
One of the largest families of moths, noctuids used to be an even larger group. Many are tan or gray and resemble tree bark. Some are serious crop pests.
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
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
Underwing moth Catocala species resting on a brick wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
Catocala spp., more than 100 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Dozens of species of underwing moths (genus Catocala) live in Missouri. They have drab tan forewings that usually conceal bright orange, red, yellow, or pink hindwings with contrasting bold dark patterns.
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
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.
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.