20 Moth Species More Beautiful Than Butterflies (2023)

There are some 160,000 unique moth species, and many have colorful characteristics that rival those of their close relative, the butterfly.

Moths range from small, camouflaged species to large specimens bigger than a human hand, with eye-popping displays to ward off predators. Here are 20 of the most beautiful moths from around the world.

Why Moths Matter

Moths are the unsung heroes of pollination. We hope that the more we learn about them, the more motivated we'll all be to protect these beauties and their habitats.

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Comet Moth

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With a wingspan of nearly 8 inches, the comet moth (Argema mittrei) is one of the largest moths in the world.

It's a member of the giant silk moths, a family of moths that produce silk while in caterpillar form to construct their cocoons. It has a thick, hairy body, feathery antennae, and distinctiveeyespotsto disarm predators.

Also known as the Madagascan moon moth, it's only found in Madagascar. Due to habitat loss, it's now endangered, though it is still bred in captivity.

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Lime Hawk-Moth

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The lime hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) is a medium-sized species with a wingspan of about 3 inches. It's found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

It has a band of green markings across its wings, which helps it hide in its woodland habitat. Males of the species are usually smaller than the females but have more colorful markings.

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Twin-Spotted Sphinx Moth

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The twin-spotted sphinx moth (Smerinthus jamaicensis) is in most regards a dull-looking species, with one notable exception: while its body and forewings are brown, it has red hindwings with prominent blue and black eyespots.

It can be found across North America, with a range that stretches from Florida to the Yukon. In its larval stage, it feeds primarily on fruit trees like crab apples and cherries.

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Oleander Hawk-Moth

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The oleander hawk-moth (Daphnis nerii) is a large example of a hawk-moth, with a wingspan of 3 inches. It's best known for its flying ability, and when it hovers over flowers to feed on nectar, it's easily mistaken for a hummingbird.

Also known as the army green moth, it has a complex camouflage pattern that ranges from green to white to purple. It's found in Asia, Africa, and the Hawaiian Islands, where it was introduced to pollinate some endangered flowers.

Io Moth

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The io moth (Automeris io) is a colorful species that can be found across much of Canada and the United States. It has large, dramatic eyespots with white speckles that almost appear to reflect light.

While the males are primarily yellow, female moths have red forewings and smaller antennae. In its caterpillar form, it is bright green and covered with venomous spines that release toxins when touched.

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Garden Tiger Moth

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The garden tiger moth (Arctia caja) prefers colder climates, and can be found in the upper latitudes across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Its zebralike wing pattern wards off predators, and for good reason—the fluids in its body are toxic to other animals. It also generates a clicking sound that's been proven todisrupt bats' echolocation abilities, which serves as another escape tactic.

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Galium Sphinx Moth

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The galium sphinx moth (Hyles gallii) is another impressive flier, with strong, striped wings that can span over 3 inches. Its range includes the Northern United States and Canada, and it can even survive as far north as the Arctic Circle.

It's named after theGaliumfamily of plants, which it feeds on as a caterpillar. Sphinx moths, also known as hawk-moths, are unusually active during the daytime, when they feed on the nectar of flowers.

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Rosy Maple Moth

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The rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) is one of the smallest of the great silk moths, a family of moths with more than2,300 member species. It's distinguished by its bright coloration, with a stout yellow body, pink legs, and pink- and yellow-striped wings.

This fuzzy creature feeds on maple leaves in its caterpillar form; in fact, large groups of caterpillars can easily render a tree bare, though this does not harm the host tree.

Like other great silk moths, it only survives from a few days up to two weeks as an adult and lacks the mouth parts necessary to eat.

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False Tiger Moth

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The false tiger moth (Dysphania militaris) is one of the moth species most commonly mistaken for a butterfly, perhaps due to its bright coloration, which is reminiscent of someswallowtail butterflies.

Despite its bright colors, it shares the characteristics that separatemoths from butterflies, including feathery antennae, a thicker abdomen, and larger scales on its wings. It is found in Southeast Asia, and has a wingspan of about 3.5 inches.

Cecropia Moth

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The cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is North America's largest moth, with a wingspan that can reach 7 inches. Like other giant silk moths, itcan't eatand survives as an adult moth for only two weeks.

The population is susceptible to pest issues—a parasitoid called the tachinid fly was introduced to combat exoticgypsy moths, but has been so effective that it is affecting native moth populations as well.

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Madagascan Sunset Moth

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Like the comet moth, the Madagascan sunset moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus) is a colorful specimen that is endemic to Madagascar. It is not, however, as large as the comet moth, with a wingspan of only 3 inches.

Its hindwings sport a multitude of hues as well as several distinctive tails. Collectors are so enamored by its beautiful appearance that it is now bred in captivity for theinternational butterfly trade.

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Giant Leopard Moth

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The giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) is found across North and Central America, from southern Canada to Panama.

It has a distinctive color pattern, with white wings with black spots, some of which are solid and others ringed. When its wings are spread, its colorful abdomen, with shiny blue and orange spots, becomes visible. It's generally hard to spot, thanks to its nocturnal nature.

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Rothschildia Aurota

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Rothschildia aurotais another giant silk moth species, and one of the largest to be found in South America, with a wingspan of 6-7 inches. It is one of many similar species on the continent, which might explain the lack of a common name.

Thanks to its wingspan and coloration, it's also a popular species with hobbyist breeders and is known for being easy to raise in captivity.

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Emperor Moth

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The emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia) is a large, brown species found across Europe. It's the only member of theSaturniidaefamily—which includes most of the largest, most beautiful moths—that lives in the British Isles.

Its mostly brown appearance is set off by a black and orange eyespot on each of its four wings.

Males will fly during the day and are much more active than females, which prefer to lie low in the vegetation during daylight hours.

White-Lined Sphinx Moth

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The white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) is another hawk-moth known for its flying prowess reminiscent of hummingbirds. Its most striking feature is the white lines referenced in its name, which cover both its wings and abdomen.

It's found across most of North and Central America, where it feeds on a wide variety of plants and flowers.

In its caterpillar form, it's known to gather in large groups that can defoliate trees and shrubs.

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Luna Moth

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The luna moth (Actias luna) is one of the largest moth species found in North America. While it's not endangered, it can be hard to spot in the wild, due to its weeklong lifespan.

It's distinguished by its white body and large, pale green wings with long tails. As a caterpillar, the luna moth is one of several species that will deter predators byproducing a clicking sound and regurgitating a foul liquid.

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Hercules moth

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A female Hercules moth (Coscinocera hercules) earned the distinction as the world's largest moth, with the largest recorded wing surface area of any insect and a wingspan of 11 inches. It's native to northern Australia and New Guinea.

These giant specimens haven't evolved by accident—studies show that large wings with long tails can help moths escape from bats by drawing attention away from more vital body parts and disrupting sonar.

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Coffee Clearwing

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The coffee clearwing (Cephonodes hylas), also known as the coffee bee hawk-moth or pellucid hawk-moth, is widely found across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

It's unique for its transparent, black-lined wings, and its multicolored body, which ranges from yellow to brown to green. As a caterpillar, it feeds on gardenia and coffee plants, and features a horn on its rear end, a common characteristic of hawk-moth larvae.

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Elephant Hawk-Moth

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The elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) is distributed across Europe and Asia, but is most commonly found in the United Kingdom. Unlike most pollinating moths, which feed during the day, it remains nocturnal and has developed excellent night vision. It can evendetect a flower's color with only moonlight as a guide.

It has evolved to have eyespots in both its caterpillar and adult forms. As a caterpillar, it will strike a defensive pose,widening its bodyand emphasizing the spots to deter predators.

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Japanese Silk Moth

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The Japanese silk moth (Antheraea yamamai) is known for producing rare and expensive tussar silk, but it's an arresting species due to its appearance as well. It has large, fernlike antennae and tan-colored wings that can grow up to 6 inches wide.

It's native to Japan, but after more than 1,000 years of cultivation for its silk, it has been imported across Asia and Europe, where the species escaped containment and now also lives in the wild.

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FAQs

Are there more species of moths than butterflies? ›

There are around 18,000 described butterfly species, and around 140,000 moths species. The majority of butterflies fly by day.

What is the prettiest type of moth? ›

Summary Of The Most Beautiful Moths In The World
RankMoth
1Luna moth
2Diva Moth
3Large Agarista
4The Basker
6 more rows
31 Oct 2022

What type of moth is Mothra? ›

Titan Moth

What is the rarest species of moth? ›

Hyalophora cecropia
Cecropia moth
Order:Lepidoptera
Family:Saturniidae
Genus:Hyalophora
Species:H. cecropia
10 more rows

What are 3 differences between butterflies and moths? ›

Butterflies tend to fold their wings vertically up over their backs. Moths tend to hold their wings in a tent-like fashion that hides the abdomen. Butterflies are typically larger and have more colorful patterns on their wings. Moths are typically smaller with drab-colored wings.

What makes a moth vs butterfly? ›

The best way to tell the difference between a moth vs a butterfly is to look at the antennae. All butterflies have long, thin antennae that end in a thickened tip. But no North American moths sport these “clubbed” antennae.

What is the name of the cute moth? ›

The Rosy Maple Moth is a species of small moths from North America, but is often called the 'great silk moths'. Known for their charming and vibrant looks, the caterpillars of these pink-and-yellow creatures also have a distinct identity with the individual name 'greenstriped mapleworm'.

What is the most Colourful moth? ›

Giant Leopard Moth

It has a distinctive color pattern, with white wings with black spots, some of which are solid and others ringed. When its wings are spread, its colorful abdomen, with shiny blue and orange spots, becomes visible. It's generally hard to spot, thanks to its nocturnal nature.

Did Mothra lay eggs? ›

The MonsterVerse incarnation of Mothra returns the character to her Toho incarnations' roots as a mystical being of resurrection; being capable of returning from death by laying an egg, from which she is reborn as a larva when her previous form dies - she has conquered death many times this way, to the point that she ...

Who is Mothra son? ›

Mothra Leo is the son of Mothra and the main protagonist in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy.

Who is Mothra's boyfriend? ›

She is a Divine Moth Kaiju and is married to Rodan. The love triangle between her, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, as well as her relationship with Ghidorah as a whole set off the show's story.

What is the world's largest moth? ›

The atlas moth is among the biggest insects on the planet, with a wingspan stretching up to 27 centimetres across - that's wider than a human handspan. And the caterpillars of the species reach up to 12 centimetres long, spending every spare second eating.

Is a gold moth rare? ›

The scarce crimson and gold is one of the UK's rarest moths with a known distribution limited to the north coast of Northern Ireland and the northern tip of the Isle of Man. It is also known from the Burren in the Republic of Ireland.

What are the differences between butterflies and moths Class 11? ›

Moths have stout and feathery antennae, whereas, butterflies have long and thin antennae. Moths are dull, whereas butterflies are vibrant in colour. Another remarkable difference is that butterflies fold their wings over the back vertically, whereas moths flatten their wings horizontally at the rest like a tent.

Is a moth similar to a butterfly? ›

You probably won't be too shocked to learn moths and butterflies are pretty darn similar. In fact, they belong to the same group of flying insects called Lepidoptera, translating as 'scale wings' in Greek.

Can moths bite? ›

The vast majority of adult moths don't have mouths and are incapable of biting anything, much less you. For the most part, they also don't sting. However, moths begin life as larvae, called caterpillars, before they go through a metamorphosis process and emerge with wings.

What color are moths? ›

Nocturnal moths are usually plain brown, grey, white or black and often possess patterns of zigzags or swirls which help camouflage them from predators as they rest during the day. However, many day-flying moths are brightly colorred, particularly if they are toxic.

What is special about moth? ›

Highly adapted, they live in all but polar habitats. The wings, bodies, and legs of moths are covered with dustlike scales that come off if the insect is handled. Compared with butterflies, moths have stouter bodies and duller colouring. Moths also have distinctive feathery or thick antennae.

Why is moth important? ›

For gardeners, moths do an awful lot of pollination. For bird lovers, 60% of our birds feed on insects, and a main part of their diet is moths. Many other animals also rely on them for food, so they're an important part of our ecosystems. However habitat loss and climate change are affecting their life cycles.

Why are moths special? ›

Moths play a vital role in food webs and are an important food item for songbirds, mammals, and other insects. Moths also are important pollinators, particularly those that are active after dark, when many other pollinating animals have settled down for the night.

Is there a pink moth? ›

It's called the rosy maple moth because of the color scheme of its body, which has sections that are rosy pink in hue, as well as its preferred habitat. These moths like to live in maple trees, which the South has in abundance. They can also be found on oaks.

What moth is pink? ›

Dryocampa rubicunda, the rosy maple moth, is a small North American moth in the family Saturniidae, also known as the great silk moths. It was first described by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1793.

How smart is a moth? ›

Study: Moths Can Remember Caterpillar Days A new study finds that moths can remember things they learned when they were caterpillars — even though the process of metamorphosis essentially turns their brains and bodies to soup. The finding suggests moths and butterflies may be more intelligent than scientists believed.

What is a moths favorite color? ›

Moths are more sensitive to some wavelengths of light -- ultraviolet, for example -- than they are to others. A white light will attract more moths than a yellow light. Yellow is a wavelength moths don't respond to.

Can moths hurt you? ›

Moths are generally peaceful creatures. They do not attack or try to hurt humans and they just keep to themselves. They do not bite or sting, unlike wasps, spiders, or ants. They do cause economic damages and are certainly a nuisance to have around the house.

What color attracts moth? ›

Moths are strongly attracted to ultraviolet and blue radiation - Brehm - 2021 - Insect Conservation and Diversity - Wiley Online Library.

Who is Mothra sister? ›

The Shobijin (小美人 Shobijin, lit. Small beauties) are tiny twin priestesses of Mothra who first appeared in the 1961 film, Mothra. They have been featured in nearly all of the character's film appearances since, as well as in several comics and video games.

Can Mothra be killed? ›

Despite repeated "deaths", Mothra never really dies, and that's a big part of what makes her so special in Toho's movies and in the MonsterVerse. In the Godzilla movies, Mothra never really dies, and that's because the iconic character has a complicated life cycle that makes her unique to her fellow giant monsters.

Who is Godzilla wife? ›

Mothra is the moth-like monster star of the film, and according to Weibo, she's also Godzilla's wife.

Who is Mothra brother? ›

Mothra is a descendant of the Kaiju of Earth, Gigamoth, along with her brother Battra. Having hatched from same egg, both siblings carried a strong bond between each other and acted as the respected guardians, Mothra being the Guardian of Mortals, and Battra as the Guardian of Terra.

Who is Mothra Leo's dad? ›

Mothra Leo (Lee-oh) formally know as Baby Mothra is a current member of the Earth Defenders and is the son of Mothra The Guardian of Mortals, who was killed by Battra under the control of Minnete and Mallory, after which he and his sister Mothra Lea retreated to Monster Islands.

How old is Mothra now? ›

When it comes to Mothra, the creature is at least 10,000 years old, and in all that time, has found reference in multiple human cultures as an object of worship. The reboot places Mothra in the realm of actual monsters, instead of her more mystical origins from her original movies.

Is Rodan in love with Mothra? ›

Also throughout the series, Rodan is shown to have an enormous crush on Mothra, constantly going after her love and attention. His love for her has taken him to great lengths in demonstrating this, from facing monsters much stronger than him to even attempting to sacrifice his own life to protect her.

Is Mothra Leo female? ›

In the English dubs for the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, Leo's gender was changed from film to film. However, Mothra Leo is generally considered to be male, while Mothra herself is female. While his mother had short, club-tipped antennae, Mothra Leo has larger, feathery-looking ones.

Who is Godzilla girlfriend? ›

Bijira (ビジラ?) is a female Godzillasaurus and Godzilla's girlfriend in the Japanese version of the Game Boy Godzilla game Gojira-kun: Kaijū Daikōshin.

What is the smallest moth? ›

How big is the world's smallest moth? The current record holder is the Stigmella maya, and the forewing measures just 1.2 millimetres. It is found in Yucatan in Mexico. This species is part of a group called microlepidoptera - the smallest moths and butterflies in the world.

Do moths eat clothes? ›

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Clothes moths are pests that can destroy fabric and other materials. They feed exclusively on animal fibers, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt, and leather. These materials contain keratin, a fibrous protein that the worm-like larvae of the clothes moth can digest ...

What is a big moth called? ›

The cecropia moth is the largest moth native to North America, attaining a wingspread of about 15 cm (6 inches). It is brown with white, red, and gray markings and large, distinctive, crescent-shaped eye spots. The larva grows to 10 cm (4 inches) in length.

Is there a moon moth? ›

Moon moths are named after the 'moon spots' that appear on their wings. You can see them on the Indian moon moth (Actias selene) pictured above. They look like tiny pink moons at different phases. These wing spots are a feature not just of moon moths, but of the entire Saturniidae family they belong to.

Are moon moths rare? ›

Luna Moths are not rare, but are rarely seen by humans. This is due to their very brief (7–10 day) adult lives and nocturnal flying time.

What color is moth blood? ›

It contains hemocyanin, a copper-based protein that turns blue when oxygenated, instead of the iron-based hemoglobin in red blood cells found in vertebrates, giving hemolymph a blue-green color rather than the red color of vertebrate blood.

Can a moth be a pet? ›

Moths can not be pets. They sleep in the daytime and should not be touched; it damages them. They belong outside, where they are beautiful pollinators. Some moths live inside and eat holes in your wool clothing if you have any.

What moth has the biggest wings? ›

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera Hercules)

The biggest moth in the world hails from none other than Tropical North Queensland! The almighty Hercules Moth has a whopping wing span of 27 centimetres. The largest ever Hercules Moth was discovered in Innisfail, approximately 110km South of Kuranda.

How many species of butterflies exist? ›

Due to their bright colors and visits to flowers, butterflies are the most familiar of insects to humans. There are about 17,500 species of butterflies in the world, and around 750 species in the United States.

How many species of butterfly and moth are there? ›

Worldwide about 150 000 Lepidoptera species have been named and grouped in 122 families. The estimated total number of species is 300 000–500 000.

Are moths the same species as butterflies? ›

In fact, they belong to the same group of flying insects called Lepidoptera, translating as 'scale wings' in Greek. However, it's likely both species didn't emerge at the same time. Butterflies are considered to have evolved from moths, originally existing as the diurnal – or daytime – equivalent of moths.

What is the biggest moth? ›

One of the goliaths of the insect world, the atlas moth is a gentle giant – but behind every oversized moth is a very hungry caterpillar. The atlas moth is among the biggest insects on the planet, with a wingspan stretching up to 27 centimetres across - that's wider than a human handspan.

What is the most common moth? ›

The brown house moth is the most common of all moths. Its wings are a golden color that resembles bronze and they have black flecks. The adult measures between 8mm and 18mm long.

What is a butterfly 🦋? ›

A butterfly is a flying insect with a small body and large, often colorful wings. Some gardeners plant specific flowers that attract butterflies. Butterflies are closely related to moths, which also have wings that are large in proportion to their bodies and antennae.

What is the original name of butterfly? ›

The word was "buterfleoge" in Old English, which means "butterfly" in our English today.

What Colour are moths? ›

Most people are familiar with the common brown or gray moth. However, some moth species have spectacular wing colors and patterns. There are colorful moths such as orange and black moths, all-white moths, and pink and yellow moths. Many species of moths have characteristic brown or black patterns and a fuzzy body.

Are moths friendly? ›

Moths are generally peaceful creatures. They do not attack or try to hurt humans and they just keep to themselves. They do not bite or sting, unlike wasps, spiders, or ants. They do cause economic damages and are certainly a nuisance to have around the house.

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