Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and moths are very distinctive and often brightly coloured. They have long antennae with two wings on each site, but they can sometimes look like only one. To tell them apart try looking at the antennae. Moths have simple thread-like or 'feathery' antenna without a club whereas butterflies have a thickened club or hook on the tip of the antenna, never 'feathery'. Also, moths hold their wings flat when resting whereas butterflies hold their wings together above their body when resting.

Scientific name


Did you know..

The most northern dwelling species of butterflies and moths is the Arctic Apollo ( Parnassius arcticus ), which is found in the Arctic Circle. Here in Britain there are over 2,500 species of moths but only 57 species of butterflies. Since 1976, 35 species of Butterfly in UK are known have declined in number but 22 species are now seen more frequently. Moths are also in decline with the overall number of moths decreasing by 28% since 1968 in UK.

Similar species

There are not many other things you can confuse with butterflies and moths!

Useful links

Butterfly conservation

Record a sighting