Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 57 results
Media
Baltimore checkerspot, perched, with wings folded
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euphydryas phaeton
Description
The Baltimore checkerspot is unforgettable. In Missouri it is locally abundant in the eastern Ozarks, but rare elsewhere.
Media
Photo of a Banded Tiger Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apantesis vittata
Description
The striking pattern on the banded tiger moth tells predators that these insects are inedible. But what serves as a “warning label” to birds is attractive to us!
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
Photo of a beautiful wood-nymph
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eudryas grata
Description
The beautiful wood-nymph rests with its white and brown forewings folded like a roof over its hindwings. At rest, this moth resembles a bird dropping.
Media
Photo of a Black Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio polyxenes
Description
Most gardeners meet the black swallowtail sooner or later, because parsley, carrot, fennel, and dill are favorite food plants of the caterpillars.
Media
Photo of a Black-and-Yellow Lichen Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lycomorpha pholus
Description
The black-and-yellow lichen moth is aptly named. “Lichen” refers to the caterpillars’ food as well as to their camouflage.
Media
Image of a Black-Bordered Lemon Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Marimatha nigrofimbria
Description
The black-bordered lemon moth moth has lustrous yellow forewings with a black edge. It is one of the many noctuid, or owlet moths.
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
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 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.
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.