Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 53 results
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 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
Bronze copper butterfly perched on a grass blade, wings closed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lycaena hyllus (syn. Hyllolycaena hyllus; Lycaena thoe)
Description
The bronze copper occurs in localized colonies in throughout northern and western Missouri. Look for it May through October in wet, open, grassy areas.
Media
Tortricid moth resting on a leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,400 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
At rest, tortricid moths often have a distinctive shape, resembling an arrowhead or a bell, with the forewing tips either squared-off or flared outward.
Media
Photo of an Orange Sulphur taking nectar from a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Colias eurytheme
Description
One of the most common butterflies in Missouri, the orange sulphur often gathers in numbers in moist places.
Media
Photo of a Red-Spotted Purple with wings closed, showing ventral side of wings
Species Types
Scientific Name
Limenitis arthemis
Description
The red-spotted purple is a stunning butterfly, even though the spots are really orange, not red, and blue is more prominent than the subtle violet hues.
Media
Photo of a Morning-Glory Prominent moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schizura ipomoeae
Description
The morning-glory prominent is common but easily overlooked in Missouri’s woods. The caterpillars mimic curled, dead edges on the leaves they feed on, and the adults blend in with tree bark.
Media
Photo of a monkey slug caterpillar on an oak leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 20 species in Missouri
Description
Adult slug caterpillar moths are heavy-bodied and furry. The weird-looking caterpillars have suckers instead of prolegs, so they glide around like slugs. Don’t touch — many have stinging spines or hairs.
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 eastern tiger swallowtail resting with wings spread open
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio glaucus
Description
The beautiful eastern tiger swallowtail ranges across Missouri and is equally at home in forests or in city landscapes.
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.