Aug 24 2010

How do you know it’s a moth?

Published by at 7:32 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Moths are generally nocturnal but Dianne Machesney found this one, a Chickweed Geometer Moth, during the day at Hillman State Park.

So how can you tell it’s a moth?

Look at the antennae, so fuzzy with many tiny branches.  Moths generally have feathery antennae; butterflies have smooth ones with little knobs at the end.

Of course, there are exceptions.  The moth link, above, explains that male Chickweed Geometer moths have very feathery antennae while the females’ are thread-like.  It’s easy to tell this moth is a boy.

For more information on the differences between moths and butterflies, see this excellent guide by Chuck Tague.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “How do you know it’s a moth?”

  1. Amyon 25 Aug 2010 at 10:46 pm

    We’ve observed a moth over the past two summers that we first thought was a hummingbird, but it’s indeed a moth! I was able to determine that it’s some type of hawk or sphynx moth, but can’t narrow it down.
    Do you know anything about which species are in our area?

  2. Kate St. Johnon 26 Aug 2010 at 6:48 am

    Yes, there is a moth in western Pennsylvania that resembles a hummingbird. It’s called a Hummingbird Clearwing.
    Here’s a nice picture of it by Chuck Tague:
    And here’s a description:

  3. Donnaon 26 Aug 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I have a picture of an insect that looks like a moth. How do I identify it? It looks like it has camouflage that would make it blend in well against a tree.
    Thank you for your help.

  4. Kate St. Johnon 26 Aug 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Donna, if you have it on a Flickr or photo site, please post the link.

  5. Donnaon 30 Aug 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hi! Try this link.

    Thank you,


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