In the lepidoptera family, butterflies are royalty. They’ve even got royal names like Monarch and Viceroy.
Butterfly gardens are popular attractions around the world. If you want, you can even order boxes of live butterflies, Monarchs and Painted Ladies, that can be released at your wedding or other festive occasion.
Can you imagine anyone releasing moths at a wedding? Guests would be horrified. They’d run screaming to the hills. You might just as well release bats. How about a commercial moth garden? Think it would attract many customers? Not on your life!
If butterflies are royalty, moths are the underclass…Lepidopteral Peons.
They’re night creatures. Most of us only see the “ugly” grey or dusky brown varieties. They flutter menacingly around your porch lights to no apparent purpose. And if you touch one, a creepy kind of dust comes off of it. And, of course, they hide in your closets and snack on your best shirts.
If Bart Simpson were to yell “Eat my shorts!” at a moth, some of them would reply “Gladly!”
But moths are victims of stereotyping. True, some of them are pests — not just to damaging clothing, but also wreaking havoc on forests and grain storage.
There are over 135,000 different varieties of moth in the world, and 13,000 in North America from over 70 families. Ten to fifteen times more moths than butterflies.
Some of them are dazzling, and people usually confuse them with butterflies. Many of them have wonderful names — like Blinded Sphinx or Confused Eusarca or Vagabond Crambus or Darling Underwing. How can you dislike creatures with names like that?! For beautiful moths, check out the Ornate Tiger Moth or the Spanish Moon Moth. Or the Zigzag White Banded Noctuid, combining impressive name and impressive color and patterns.
Some butterflies look like moths (especially the skippers), and some moths look like butterflies. How do you tell the difference? It’s all in the antennae. Moths have feathery, thickened, comb-like or threadlike antennae, not hooked or knobbed like butterflies. And moths usually fold their wings in, like bees.