What Is The Difference Between Butterfly And Moth?
The most obvious difference between a moth and butterfly can be seen in their wings. Most butterfly species have a distinctly colorful appearance. The most common moth species usually have more subdued colors and patterns on their wings.
The antennae of a moth can be more feather-like in appearance, while most butterflies have a thinner antennae.
We can see another difference between moths and butterflies in how they hold their wings. A butterfly will generally rest with its wings closed. A moth at rest will instead keep its wings open.
One of the biggest reasons for this difference comes from the times moths and butterflies are active. Butterflies are typically active during the day. This means that butterflies can use color to help them find each other. Meanwhile, moths are typically active at night. Low light conditions make colorful wings far less beneficial.
Both moths and butterflies use scent to find other members of their species. Moths are typically far better at targeting by scent than a butterfly. Some moths can even find each other by smell when they’re up to four miles away from each other.
The way in which moth and butterfly larva obtain those wings is also quite different. Both insects grow from a larval caterpillar form into a winged adult within a protective casing. But the nature of that casing differs in some significant ways. Moth larva will weave a soft cocoon around themselves. Butterfly larva will instead molt to reveal a hard chrysalis.
What are more differences between a butterfly and moth?
Butterflies are often held up as the pinnacle of natural beauty. When a butterfly spreads its wings we can see a vast rainbow of color. What’s more, butterflies lack most of the habits which make many insects feel like pests to us. Meanwhile, moths seem like a drab and washed out version of a butterfly.
It is strange that these two insects can be so alike and yet so vastly different. This relationship often prompts people to wonder one particular question. What is the difference between butterfly and moth?
A moth’s physical form seems similar to the butterflies on a structural level. However, moths just seem to lack the beauty and grace typical of a butterfly.
How old are moths and butterflies?
You might notice that the differences between moths and butterflies often come down to how each handles a similar function. Both species have a caterpillar phase. But they undergo their metamorphosis into adulthood in different types of cocoon. Both species have similar wings, even if differing in coloration. When we ask what is the difference between butterfly and moth we also see similarities.
Why are moths and butterflies similar enough that we wonder about their differences? The answer is that moths and butterflies are closely related. Both of these species belong to an order of insects called Lepidoptera.
Insect fossils are rare, so it’s often difficult to trace their evolutionary history. However, it’s believed that moths evolved around 300 million years ago. Butterflies would then evolve from the moth about 98 million years in the past. Interestingly enough it appears that butterflies are the descendants of moths who were trying to find a better way to obtain nectar.
Moths are typically nocturnal. But around 100 million years ago many new species of flowering plant were making an appearance. Moths had trouble taking advantage of that fact due to the plant’s pollen being easier to obtain during the daylight hours. But over time some moths became active during the day in order to obtain that elusive new food source. Moths trying to take advantage of the new plants suddenly had very different environmental concerns than their nocturnal siblings.
Over time the butterfly in daylight would develop traits more useful to a life in the sun. In particular the bright wings of a butterfly are easily visible in sunlight. This can scare away predators who assume bright colors indicate poison. Likewise, the butterfly’s colors can attract other butterflies.
The DNA of moths and butterflies.
Much of what we know about the ancient history of moths and butterflies is a result of genetic analysis. The past few years have seen some extensive genetic sampling from a wide range of moths and butterflies. In many ways we’ve only just begun to explore the similarities and differences between moths and butterflies.
The study of these insects has largely focused on what we can see with our own eyes. But new technologies are giving us an ability to study the insects on a genetic level. We can now look directly into the DNA of moths and butterflies to learn more about them. It’s clear that researchers will be making new discoveries about moths and butterflies for years to come.
The significance of small differences.
We’ve seen that butterflies and moths have some distinct differences. However, they also have a lot more in common than appearance would suggest. These similarities and differences highlight just how important scientific research can be. Sometimes the small differences found by scientists can shed light on how amazing and varied the world really is.