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Moth Vs. Butterfly

Moth vs. Butterfly

Many homeowners notice large, flying insects in and around their homes and wonder whether they are moths or butterflies. While both are harmless to people and can be fun to watch, some types of moth larvae are serious clothing and pantry pests. Since moths and butterflies have several similar characteristics, they can be hard to identify correctly.

Moth Illustration

Moth Illustration

Differences Between Moths and Butterflies

Identification begins with noticing their separate features. Look at the following characteristics to decide if the insect is a moth or a butterfly.


Butterflies and moths have different types of antennae, which may be the easiest way to distinguish the two. Butterfly antennae are long and smooth with a bulb-like shape at the end, while moth antennae are feathery in appearance.


Both insects have wings, but the anatomy of their wings is different. The pests hold their wings in unique ways. When butterflies are resting, their wings fold vertically. Moths hold their wings in a tent-like manner over themselves for protection.


Moths are usually nocturnal, only flying and feeding at night. As a result, most of these pests have a dull, neutral coloration and simple markings on their wings and body. Butterflies mostly feed during the day and are brighter in color and feature more distinct color patterns.

Moth vs. Butterfly Control

Some moths can get into homes and cause problems for residents, so knowing the difference between a moth and a butterfly is important. Moths enter in search of food and can damage pantry goods, clothing, and fabrics. Butterflies usually fly inside by accident and do not cause any issues. Also, moths are far more likely to be attracted to lights at night.

Seal holes in the home exterior, keep doors and windows shut and well screened and turn off lights at night that are not needed in order to prevent these insects from getting inside. Transferring flour, cereal, and other foods into airtight containers will also keep moths from getting into kitchens and stored products. Also, regularly inspect clothing for evidence of clothes moths, especially if clothing items are worn infrequently.


Products like mothballs and other insecticides are an option to deal with moth pests, but can pose possible problems to humans, if improperly used. Homeowners with moth problems will get the greatest benefit from contacting Orkin for professional moth removal services.


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