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What is the difference between butterflies and moths?

Cecropia mothCecropia mothButterflies fly during the daytime. They usually have antennae shaped like thin stalks. Most moths are night-flyers. Their antennae are usually feathery in shape. The wings of both butterflies and moths are covered in tiny, overlapping scales. The scales' different colours produce the patterns by which we can tell different kinds apart.

Close-up view of a butterfly's coiled proboscisClose-up view of a butterfly's coiled proboscis


Butterflies and moths have a long, hollow tongue called a proboscis. They use it to probe inside flowers and suck up nectar. Butterflies keep their proboscis tightly rolled up when they are not feeding.


Birdwing butterflies, from the rainforests of southeast Asia, have the largest wingspan of all butterflies. The rare Queen Alexandra birdwing is the record-holder. The females can measure up to 28 cm (11 inches) across, while the males are smaller.

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