Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 35 results
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Photo of an American lady butterfly, wings folded.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vanessa virginiensis
Description
The American lady resembles the closely related painted lady butterfly. It has two large spots on the hindwing underside, however.
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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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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?
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Photo of a common wood-nymph butterfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cercyonis pegala
Description
Common wood nymphs vary by region. Some have a yellow area on the forewing containing two eyespots. Others may have the yellow area reduced to a yellow circle around each eyespot.
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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.
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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.
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Goatweed leafwing perched on a tree trunk with wings closed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Anaea andria
Description
As it rests with wings closed, the goatweed leafwing mimics a dry, dead leaf. But when it flutters around, it flashes bright rusty orange on the top side of its wings.
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Gray comma perched on a flower, winged closed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygonia progne
Description
The gray comma is easy to ID if you can see the underside: it is charcoal gray with many fine dark streaks, and its comma marking is L-shaped and narrows to a fine point at each end.
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Image of a gypsy moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lymantria dispar
Description
The gypsy moth, introduced to our continent from Europe, has caused millions of dollars in damages to forests. Help protect our forests by learning how to recognize the gypsy moth reporting any occurrences you find.
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Photo of a Hackberry Emperor
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asterocampa celtis
Description
The hackberry emperor eats hackberry leaves as a caterpillar. The adults fly erratically. They often alight on people to absorb sodium from sweat.
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.
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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.