Moths & Butterflies

Moths and Butterflies both belong to the order Lepidoptera.

There are over 2500 species of moths, and 61 species of butterfly, in the UK.

What is the difference between a Moth and a Butterfly? There are no reliable  rules to distinguish between them, and I don’t know why they were first classed as being different (if anyone knows, please let me know). Generalising, there are a few points that often disinguish between them, but these ‘rules’ are often broken:

  • The antennae – butterflies tend to have thin, matchstick-shaped antennae (straight with a blob on top); moths usually have long tapering antennae, sometimes heavily feathered (especially in males for use in finding mates)
  • Many moths can couple their upper- and under-wings together using a filament (the frenulum) on the underwing and barbs on the upper-wing. Butterflies do not have this feature.
  • Wings when at rest – butterflies tend to fold their wings together, upright over their backs; most moths rest with their wings flat over their body
  • Moths are more often nocturnal fliers, though there are frequent daytime fliers (in Dernol, the Silver Y moth is often seen in the daytime).


The food plants that I have listed on the enlarged versions of the photos are not a complete list for each species, only those likely to be found in Dernol.

I have been trapping moths in Glandernol garden since 2007, using a Skinner trap, and all the moths are released unharmed after being counted and sometimes photographed. Many of them can be seen in the gallery below – there a lot of LBJs (little brown jobs) but amongst them are some very colourful species. At the time of writing (November 2020), I have caught 201 species of moths, the commonest species being Large Yellow Underwing, Hebrew Character, White Ermine and Common Quaker.

Moths – latest additions

Moths – main gallery