Butterflies and Moths: The Good and the Bad + Amazing Facts

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Butterflies and moths are insects with two pairs of wings that are partly or wholly covered with tiny overlapping

scales. There are tens of thousands of species of butterflies and moths.

The chief differences between butterflies and moths are the ff;

A butterfly’s body is generally more slender than a moth’s.

Most butterflies’ antennae end in a club-like knob while most moths are threadlike or feathery.

Most butterflies are active during the day and hold their wings vertically while at rest.

Most moths on the other hand, fly at dusk or night, when at rest, hold their wings over the body.

Amazing Facts about Butterflies and Moths

Caterpillars of some species of saturniids are eaten by Indians of the Southwest as a delicacy.

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Butterflies do not spin cocoons.

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Viceroy Butterfly resembles the monarch- a species that birds avoid because of its unpleasant taste.

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The caterpillar’s head has six pairs of simple eyes.

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Butterflies and moths’ organ of smell are the antennae, which are probably also used for hearing.

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Cecropia is one of the most beautiful moths.

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There are more types of harmful moths than harmful butterflies.

The Skipper’s Caterpillars spin loose cocoons, the only butterfly caterpillars to do so.

Adult butterflies and moths are harmless, but their caterpillars (larvae) are often pest of plants, plant products,

and certain animal products.

Millions of dollars are spent each year to combat injurious caterpillars.

Unlike most moths, the Clearwings fly during the day.

A female Bagworm has no legs, wings, or antennae, and dies shortly after laying eggs.

Silkworm Moth is the only insect other than the honeybee that has been domesticated.

Unlike most moths, Clothing Moths avoid light, seeking dark places.

Most moths are attracted to light. Some will fly so close to the hot bulb or open flame that they burn to death.

Kinds of Harmful Butterflies and Moths

Clothing Moths

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Clothing Moths are delicate, small moths with wing span of less than one inch. The adults do not feed. Unlike

most moths, clothes moths avoid light, seeking dark places. The white larvae feed on dried vegetable and animal

substance. Besides clothing, clothes moths destroy rugs, upholstery and fur. Examples are the case-making

clothes moth (tinea pellionella) and webbing clothes moth (tineola bisseliella)

Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae)

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Cabbage butterfly lays its eggs singly on the underside of vegetable leaves, and produces a caterpillar which

devours the hearts, instead of merely the leaves, of cabbages

Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)

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Codling moths are serious pest. It has become one of the regular pests of apple orchards and found almost

worldwide. It also attacks pears, walnuts, and other tree fruits.

Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)

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The Gypsy Moth has become, over the past century, a major pest in the northeastern United States and

southeastern Canada. The Gypsy Moth is a serious threat to some of North America’s most beautiful and

popular deciduous trees including maples, oaks and elms.

Cotton Bollworm (Helicoverpa zea)

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The Cotton Bollworm or Corn Earworm is a major pest of cotton and corn, but also affects a number of other field

crops including soybeans, grain sorghum, sunflowers, and peanuts. It damages cotton plants by cutting off

terminals which causes multiple branching and delayed maturity. They also damage the cotton plant by eating into

the squares, blooms, and bolls. In corn the larvae feed on the leaves, tassels, ears, and the whorl. In soybeans

the larvae feed on leaves, stems, flowers, pods, and seeds within pods that may result in foliage, flower, and fruit

loss.

Bagworms (Psychidae)

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A female bagworm has no legs, wings, or antennae, and dies shortly after laying eggs. The caterpillar feed on

such evergreens as cedar and a large numbers can do serious damage.

Clearwings (Sesiidae)

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The Clearwings have narrow, partly transparent wings. Unlike most moths, the Clearwings fly during the day. The

larvae bore into stems, bark, and roots of woody plants and some species do serious damage. Example is the

Peach Tree Borer (Synanthedon exitiosa). Larvae attack peach trees doing millions of dollars worth damage each

year. Feed under bark, killing young trees and weakening older ones.

Cossids (Cossidae)

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The Cossids are best represented by the Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina). Its larvae bore into fruit and shade

trees.

Hawk or Sphinx Moth (Sphingdae)

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The Hawk Moth includes the White-lined Sphinx, Hog Sphinx, and the Tomato Hornworm, which attack potato and

tobacco plants.

Pierids (Pieridae)

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The Pierids are the most familiar types of butterflies found in the open fields. The caterpillars destroy garden

crops.

Owlet Moths (Noctuidae)

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Many Owlet Caterpillars are highly destructive farm pest. Examples are the Army Worm, Corn Ear Worm and Cut

Worm.

Pyralid or Snout Moth

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The Pyralid Moths have snout-like mouth parts. The larvae feed on grain and grain products. Example of pyralid

moths includes the European corn borer and close-wing snout moth.

Some Useful Butterflies and Moths

The Giant Silkworms are the largest moth found in the US and Canada. The cocoons are used for silk.

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Silkworm Moth larva is the only insect other than the honeybee that has been domesticated.

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Hummingbird Moth pollinates certain flowers while gathering nectar.

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Yucca Moth places a ball of pollen in the yucca flower where it has just laid eggs.

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Caterpillars are eaten by many kinds of insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds.

A few kinds of butterflies and moths are important in the pollination of flower;

Although some species of butterflies and moths are endangered, it is not collectors who are responsible; the

principal threat to butterflies and moths is the destruction of their natural habitats due to construction and land

development projects.

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