What Do Moths Look Like?

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Moths come in all shapes and sizes, from a few millimeters to 13 centimeters long. Find out how a moth's antennae is distinguished from that of butterflies with information from an entomologist in this free video on insects and bugs.

Part of the Video Series: Insects & Bugs
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I'm Mike Quinn and I've been an entomologist for 20 years and we here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center talking about what do moths look like? Moths come in all shapes and sizes. They can be just a few millimeters long to up to 13 centimeters long. The largest moth is typically called a white witch. There are some moths that are as big as dinner plates but most moths are about an inch to a centimeter long and they are typically cryptically colored and they hide during the day and fly around at night. They have generally distinguished from butterflies by their antennae. The moths either have a feather like plumose antennae or if it is a male it is a thread like filament antenna and butterflies by contrast have generally a clubbed antenna like a tiny Q-tip if you will. Moths typically hold their wings roof like over their body when it rests and generally are brown in color but many are gorgeous and some actually fly during the day and even greatly resemble butterflies somewhat like swallow tail butterflies. So most are small, cryptically colored, hold their wings over their back in a roof like position but again there is a wide variety of differences to what a moth looks like.

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