Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 40 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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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.
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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
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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Common buckeye butterfly nectaring on a flower, wings spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Junonia coenia
Description
The common buckeye is one of Missouri’s prettiest butterflies, but it doesn’t overwinter here. Instead, migrants arrive in late spring and early summer.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.