Difference Between Moth and Butterfly

From a single glance, it would be rather hard to tell apart a moth from a butterfly because of its 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 during 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 and 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 daytime.

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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.


How is a moth different from a butterfly body?

Moths have stout and feathery antennae, whereas butterflies have long and thin antennae. Moths are dull, whereas butterflies are vibrant in colour. Another remarkable difference is that butterflies fold their wings over the back vertically, whereas moths flatten their wings horizontally at rest like a tent.

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