Moths are hairy while butterflies are scaley, right? Well, it might not be that simple. Let's look at the information and see what the science says about moths and if they are really their own thing.
An Order of Magnitude
Both butterflies and moths reside in the scientific Order: Lepidoptera. Of which, only about 6% to 11% are classified as butterflies, the rest of known as moths. The main issue that many people have, is thinking that there is a hard and fast line between these two and that is not true.
For instance, it is not true that butterflies are always colorful while moths are usually duller. The Southern Purple Mint Moth is very colorful, while the Speckled Wood butterfly is not very colorful.
It is also not true that butterflies are seen during the day, and moths only at night. This is because some moths are diurnal, and butterflies can be seen during twilight. They both have two compound eyes, a proboscis, two antenna, and other things that are the same between species. Also, they both go through metamorphosis, going from an egg, to larvae, to cocoon, to winged beauty.
How can you tell them apart?
There are a lot of gray lines between moths and butterflies. But this does not mean that we do not know where to draw some lines.
For instance, butterflies have long antennae with a bulb on the top of them, while moths tend to have a more "feathery" antennae. No butterfly has a feathery antenna, although some moths may have a bulb-like one.
The main dividing factor would be whether they make a cocoon or a chrysalis. Butterflies make a chrysalis, which is made from their own hardened skin. Moths make a cocoon, which is generally created from silk that they make, leaves, and sometimes even bits of paper.
It is fun to think of dichotomies when it comes to anything in life, but it tends not to be the case. Especially when it comes to the gray lines between moths and butterflies. Whether it is a moth or a butterfly, both are fascinating insects with a lot of stuff we can learn from them.
Watch this fascinating video explain all of the differences that can be seen between the two: