Bfly & Moth differences

Chris Raper cmt.raper at
Tue Jun 6 08:26:59 EDT 2000

On Mon, 05 Jun 2000 18:36:32 -0400, gwang <gwang at>

>I've heard that the surest way to tell if something is a butterfly or a
>moth is by looking at their antennae; butterflies always have clubbed
>My question is: is this true?  Are there no exceptions at all?

There are always exceptions :-)

Basically, 'moth' & 'butterfly' are unofficial and relatively
unscientific groupings. The main group that includes all butterflies &
moths is called the 'order' Lepidoptera, which is in-turn split into a
large number of 'families' - nearly all with long names that are
difficult to pronounce. Because we humans tend to like simple systems
we have grouped some similar families together & called them
'butterflies'. Butterflies _tend_ to fly during the day, have clubbed
antennae, usually hold their wings over their back etc - unfortunately
so do some moths and here is where we get the confusion! 

Best wishes,
Chris R.

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