Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 117 results
Media
Regal moth resting on a stick, shown from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Citheronia regalis
Description
The enormous, horned caterpillars of regal moths are more famous than the winged adults. This splendid moth is well established in the Ozarks and eastern Missouri.
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 lucerne moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nomophila nearctica
Description
The lucerne moth is one of many types of moths in the crambid family. Its caterpillars eat plants in the grass, celery, clover/alfalfa, and smartweed families.
Media
Photo of a sod webworm moth on a screen window with wings curled around abdomen
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pediasia trisecta
Description
Sod webworms are very common small moths that develop as caterpillars among the roots and leaves of grasses. They are attracted to lights at night.
Media
Photo of an unidentified grass skipper
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 275 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
At first glance, skippers look halfway between butterflies and moths. They are commonly seen darting among the flowers they visit on hot summer days.
Media
Faint-spotted palthis moth resting on part of an aluminum screen door
Species Types
Scientific Name
Subfamily Herminiinae
Description
Litter moths are a subfamily of rather nondescript brownish moths, often with intricate patterns that camouflage them as they rest on tree bark or among leaves on the forest floor.
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.
Media
Photo of an Eastern Tailed-Blue
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cupido comyntas
Description
You can find the eastern tailed-blue in Missouri in prairies, fields, vacant lots, and yards — virtually any open, sunny place.
Media
Olive hairstreak taking nectar at a chickweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Callophrys gryneus gryneus (syn. Mitoura gryneus gryneus)
Description
The only green butterfly in Missouri, the olive (or juniper) hairstreak never strays far from eastern red cedar, its larval food plant. Adults fly between April and August.
Media
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.