Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 71 results
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
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 juniper-twig geometer resting on a brick wall
Species Types
Scientific Name
Patalene olyzonaria
Description
The juniper-twig geometer is one of many geometrid moths that look like a dried-up leaf. Look for them around porch lights April through November. Larvae eat junipers, including eastern red cedar.
Media
Photo of a bilobed looper moth resting on concrete, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
Megalographa biloba (formerly Autographa biloba)
Description
The bilobed looper moth has a conspicuous B-shaped silvery spot on each forewing. Caterpillars of this noctuid moth eat a wide range of plants, and this species is widespread.
Media
Three-lined flower moth resting on a window screen
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schinia trifascia
Description
The three-lined flower moth is a common noctuid moth. Its caterpillars eat flowers and flower buds of false bonesets, Joe-Pye weeds, thoroughworts, and blazing stars.
Media
Adult grapevine epimenis moth perched on a leaf, viewed from above, wings outstretched
Species Types
Scientific Name
Psychomorpha epimenis
Description
The grapevine epimenis flies during daytime and would seem too colorful to be a moth, but a moth it is. They fly in springtime and love to visit wild plum blossoms.
Media
Wavy-lined emerald moth resting on an acrylic surface, viewed obliquely showing head
Species Types
Scientific Name
Synchlora aerata
Description
The wavy-lined emerald is one of many Missouri moths called emeralds. The emeralds are a subfamily within the geometrid family. Note the scalloped or wavy white lines that run across the wings, pale green fringe on the wings, and a long white stripe running the length of the abdomen.
Media
Bent-line carpet moth resting on a concrete surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Costaconvexa centrostrigaria (formerly Orthonama centrostrigaria)
Description
The bent-line carpet and several similar geometrid moths are called carpet moths for their intricate wing patterns, reminiscent of the traditional carpets of Asia and the Middle East.
Media
Henry's elfin butterfly resting on an oak leaf at Smith Conservation Area
Species Types
Scientific Name
Callophrys henrici (formerly Incisalia henrici)
Description
Henry’s elfin is a small brown butterfly with splendid camouflage markings. It lives in and near open woodlands. The adults fly only in April and early May, when redbuds and wild plums are blooming.
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.