Difference Between Moth and Butterfly

From a single glance, it would be rather hard to tell apart a moth from a butterfly because of their general shape and size. Furthermore, these two organisms have many things in common. For instance, both are members of Class Insecta and order Lepidoptera. Both have an exoskeleton, and both have a 3-part-segmented body with 3 pairs of legs. To make matters more confusing, both have minute scales that cover their entire body and wings. However, that is where the similarities between the two end.

Difference Between Butterfly and Moth




Moths are nocturnal – active at night

Butterflies are Diurnal – active at day


Moths flatten out their wings when at rest

Butterflies fold their wings back when at rest.

Pupal Stage

Moths make cocoons from silk

Butterflies make chrysalis that is hard, smooth and does NOT comprise silk.


Moths have a structure called the Frenulums, which join the forewing and hind wing

Butterflies have no frenulums


Moths have stout and fuzzy antennas with a feathery or comb-like appearance

Butterflies have long, slender antennas with club-shaped tips


Moths have comparatively duller colours than butterflies

Butterflies sport more vibrant colours


Moths are generally smaller compared to butterflies

Butterflies are generally larger compared to moths

Species and Distribution

Moths make up between 89-94 per cent of order Lepidoptera

Butterflies only make up between 6-11 per cent of order Lepidoptera

Please note – there are some exceptions to the aforementioned difference. For example, though moths are nocturnal, some moths such as the hummingbird moths feed on flowers during the day time.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Moths and Butterfly

How can you tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth?

An easy way to tell apart moths from butterflies would be to look at the antennas – Moths have stout and fuzzy antennas with a feathery or comb-like appearance. On the other hand, butterflies have long, slender antennas with club-shaped tips.

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