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Do you know the difference between moths and butterflies?

Aotearoa/New Zealand has around 25 butterfly species and around 1700 different moth species.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Butterflies you will see in the Banks Track area are the Red and Yellow Admirals, Monarch, Common Copper and Common Blue butterflies. There are many more moths. Most related to the caterpillars’ host plant and found near them such as the Kawakawa Looper moth, the Green Coprosma Carpet moth, the Porina moth (a favouriate food for the Ruru/Owl) and the Kowhai Owlet moth.

The cute face of a NZ Moth

Most people, even those who claim they don’t like insects, like butterflies but fewer like moths and write them off as dull light-seeking flying bugs. How wrong these people are.

Many moths in Aotearoa/New Zealand are day flyers and they are beautifully coloured, such as the Alpine grassland Orange, the Magpie Moth and the Dark-banded Carpet Moth.

Copper Butterfly

Six differences between butterflies and moths are:
  1. Wings

Moths land with their wings spread and rest with their wings open.

Butterflies land with their wings folded back and rest with their wings closed.

  1. Antenna

Moths have short feathery antenna.

Butterflies have thin, long antennas with a club or swelling at the tip.

  1. Activity

Many moths are active at night.

All butterflies are active during the day.

  1. Pupa

Most moths create a silky cocoon

Butterflies make a shiny chrysalis.

  1. Caterpillar

The coat of a moths caterpillar stage is fuzzy.

The coat of a butterflies caterpillar is smoother than a moths.

  1. Body Shape

The moth is shorter and fatter than a butterfly with thicker hair.

The butterfly body is skinnier and longer than the moth.

A Lichen Moth