The main differences are that most butterflies fly in the daytime, whereas moths tend to fly at night, and butterflies are typically larger and have more colourful patterns on their wings. Moths are typically smaller with drab-coloured wings.
Moths have a frenulum, which is a wing-coupling device. Butterflies do not have frenulums. Frenulums join the forewing to the hind wing, so the wings can work in unison during flight.
The easiest way to tell the difference is that a butterfly’s antennae are club-shaped with a long shaft and a bulb at the end. A moth’s antennae are feathery or saw-edged.
See also our Butterflies page.
Moth identification evening, June 2014
Our second moth identification evening took place in the Park Information Centre in June 2014.
We set up the trap the night before and again, Michael Hammerson of the Highgate Society was kind enough to come along and sort through the large numbers of moths captured.
Picking up the moth trap in the morning there were quite few moths landed on nearby walls that had to be collected before moving to the Park Information Centre to identify the catch.
Some of the small grass moths took some separating out...
In the evening we welcomed a small crowd of enthusiasts one coming from quite far away. Michael explained about the life cycle of the moths, why they are attracted to light and pointed out how important they can be in the ecosystem. There also some excellent pictures to be seen.
Again the Heart and Dart moth was the most represented with 50 individuals attracted to the light. This time I think that the smartest moth was probably the Scalloped Oak. (pictured)
One moth, the Riband Wave, comes in two distinct forms and we were lucky enough to collect examples of each.
The following is a list of the moths which were captured in traps in Alexandra Park (and later released) on the night of 25-26th June 2014 : (Most of the smaller moths don’t have common names.)
Moth identification evening, June 2013
Our first moth identification evening took place in the Information Centre in June 2013.
Michael Hammerson of the Highgate Society set up a moth trap on Tuesday night in the Park and left it overnight to see which moths could be found. On Wednesday morning there were a couple of moths still flying by the light and some magpies taking a keen interest.
Michael collected the moths and the trap and took them to the Park Information Centre to sort and identify them. On Wednesday evening at 7pm twenty of us met up for tea and cake and to learn about moths. Michael gave an interesting short talk on the different types of moths, their habits and foibles and our interactions with them.
Next, we were called forward to examine the finds in closer detail. It then became obvious what a skill it is to identify some of the micro moths even with a good reference book. One moth, Heart and Dart was over represented with forty-one individuals captured - over two thirds of the total catch. The most beautiful to my eyes was the furry looking Buff Ermine (pictured here)
One of our members, Henry, who lives right near the park, had also put out a trap on the Tuesday and brought along his finds, including a beautifully delicate Light Emerald.
Michael then showed us some pictures of more exotic moths on his computer. Finally came the highlight for some; letting the moths go afterwards.
More pictures from the evening can be found here.