Differences Between Butterflies and Moths Worksheet

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Have you ever mistaken a butterfly for a moth?  Using the information below and our free Differences Between Butterflies and Moths Worksheet Pack, your family can quickly spot the differences between these two similar insects.

People love to watch butterflies flit from flower to flower in all their colored splendor. We see moths flocking to lights at night with their dusty drab wings.

Although we often see butterflies and moths, do we know much about them? Read the information below, then complete the activities on each differences between butterflies and moths worksheet and have fun learning!

Table of Contents

What are the difference between butterflies and moths other than their color? 

There are five orders of insects.  Butterflies and moths belong to the Lepidoptera  order.  There are 165,000 different types of Lepidoptera.

You can read more about insect orders in this post we have.

Don’t forget to use the sign-up box below to get your copy of the differences between butterflies and moths worksheet packet.

Have you ever mistaken a butterfly for a moth?  How can you tell the difference between moths and butterflies? It can be difficult to determine if what you are observing is a butterfly or a moth!

Butterflies and moths are similar in several ways:

  • They are both insects which means they have three main body parts—a head, thorax and abdomen.
  • Butterflies and moths have three pairs of legs, two antennae and  lay eggs.
  • Both are the only insects that have scales covering their wings. There are about 500 scales per inch on one butterfly wing and 125,000 per square inch!
  • Both live anywhere from the rain forests to the tundra.
  • Butterflies and moths both shed their skin as their body grows bigger and bigger.
  • Butterflies and moths go through a process of metamorphosis.  (Their bodies take on four different forms during their life cycle.)

There are several differences to help you identify a butterfly from a moth:

  • Butterflies fly mostly during daylight hours and moths are nighttime creatures.
  • Since they fly mostly at night, moths are attracted to light colored flowers that have a strong fragrance.
  • Butterflies have thin bodies with bumps on the end of their bodies.
  • They hold their wings upright when they are at rest. Moths have thick bodies with feathery antennae.  When they are at rest moths hold their wings flat.
  • Butterflies emerge from a chrysalis and moths emerge from a cocoon.
  • One interesting difference is that butterflies cannot hear sound, but some species (types of) moths do have ears and can hear their primary predator—bats.

Spotting the differences with our differences between butterflies and moths worksheet

We have put together some Differences Between Butterflies and Moths printables. Use the worksheets alongside the information in this post or books we have linked below.

Activities include parts of a butterfly, parts of a moth, life cycle (3 activities), and some fill-in-the blank…and, of course, a few coloring pages.

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Books and Other Resources to Teach the Differences Between Butterflies and Moths

We did a butterfly and insect unit with preschool twins in our family, and they had so much fun with our activities. I purchased the InsectLore Insect Life Cycle set, and I wasn’t sure if it was too advanced for four year olds, but the girls had a great time with the sets. After reading a book about butterflies and moths, they quickly caught on that the individual parts were part of each insect’s life cycle.

differences between butterflies and moths worksheet - resources we used with our study, insectlore life cycle set
These are some of the books we have used in our butterfly and moth units:

We always have a field guide. We have an older edition of this one and have used it for 15 years.

Differences between butterflies and moths worksheet use this field guide to enhance your study

We started with this book.


I highly recommend this series of books by Diana Aston

This one is A Butterfly is Patient


One of my favorite authors of science books for the elementary grades is Jim Aronsky. We have enjoyed his book on snowflakes, and this is his book on insects.

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