May 3, 2009


The second largest class of insects is the order of Lepidoptera: the moths and butterflies. But what's the difference between moths and butterflies? Depends on who you ask, and how belligerent they are.

But, in general, you can outline some general differences, though there are always exceptions:

Moths: nocturnal, feathery or unclubbed antennae, form a silk-spun cocoon, tend toward drab colors, have furry abdomens, tend to fold their wings flat when at rest.

Butterflies: diurnal, slender filamentous antennae, form a chrysalis, tend toward bright colors, have smooth abdomens, tend to fold their wings above their backs.

Now, given the details above, the creature to the left is a moth (flat wings, furry body, feathery antennae). But nowhere in the taxonomical descriptions of Lepidopterans is there any discussion of evil. Any idea what this sinister monster might be?
UPDATE: This is a photo by Igor Siwanowicz, and it's most likely an Eupackardia calleta. Thanks, anon3.


thirdanon said...

Any idea what this sinister monster might be?It is very difficult to make a very... err... specific... ID without more information (location, wing patterns, size, etc). However, I can tell you that this is a male (huge antennae), and that it is a member of the saturniidae family of moths.

As is true with all members of this family, you will notice that the poor male has no mouth parts. That's because the adults do not feed. After eclosing ("hatching" from the cocoon), their only mission in life is to mate. Having done so, and assuming they escape predators, the only thing left to do is to slowly starve to death.

thirdanon said...

PS. I forgot to mention a couple of things.

That's a great site for pictures of various types of Saturniid moths. As you can see, quite a large number of them are extremely colorful and not drab at all. That leads me to say that those distinctions between butterflies and moths are VERY generalized, but I guess they are good enough generalizations for beginners.

Yvonne Navarro said...

It's Dracula. As punishment for feeding on the living, he's been reincarnated as a moth and doomed to slowly starve to death. It's the ultimate partnership of religion and science.

3rd anon said...

It's the ultimate partnership of religion and science.I agree that it would lead to death by slow starvation, but it's too beautiful to be the partnership between religion and science.

Going back to the moth, I'm pretty sure it's Eupackardia calleta given that the picture is an Igor Siwanowicz photo. He's photographed it before, this being one:

It all fits. This is the female (note the antennae)-

The weird thing is just how FAT the male is. usually only the females are so fat.

April Lorier said...

Justin, just turn your porch light on at night, and notice no butterflies flock to the light! Ha! That's MY way of telling the difference between moths and butterflies.
Well, you outdid yourself this time. This moth is truly u-g-l-y!! Yes, I'm overloaded!!

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Anonymous said...

Eupackardia calleta? Pffft. That's wrong. I can say with 100% certainty it's an electric eel.

Raging Wombat said...

No, NO! The electric eel ID strikes again.

Zanna said...

No, that is not Mothra, that is Mothra's mortal enemy, the dread kaiju Battra! Battra is the embodiment of Earth's rage, appropriate for such a sinister looking giant moth...

anon^3 said...

"No, NO! The electric eel ID strikes again."

Oi, I didn't know that was so famous.

At least the comparison is right, This moth being an electric eel is about as likely as that catfish being one.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a catfish, it was an electric eel.

The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls said...

This reminds me of the "Mothman" that is supposedly haunting an area Point Pleasant. Yes, that is exactly what the movie is about. This thing creeps me out!!