Butterfly or Moth?

Moths are those brown creatures that gather near the porch light after dark, right? And any small fluttery critter is a moth, regardless of time of day, right? Not necessarily ….

How can we tell a butterfly from a moth? It’s easiest to distinguish them by their antennae, although it can be hard to see this detail with the naked eye. A butterfly has club-like tips on its antennae. A moth doesn’t and sometimes has feathery antennae.

This Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides) has clubs on the tips of its antennae and if you look closely you can see little hooks as well. Butterfly!

This Yellow-collared Scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) has feathery antennae. Moth!

This Bluish Spring moth looks very much like a butterfly on its ventral (under) side, but the bare tips on its antennae are giveaways. Moth!

The banner photo  shows a Grey Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), nectaring on a clover blossom which helps show its small size. This species is widespread in Squamish and measures just 2.4 cm (spread flat). Its size, grey colouring and skittish flight can easily lead us to think there’s a moth on the lawn. The club ends on its antennae are marked by orange tips. Butterfly!

To find out more about our moths and butterflies, have a look at this album:

All photos are used by permission and were taken in Squamish.