Characteristic Traits of Lepidopteran Families

Note that this journal is by no means exhaustive and does not contain every family, nor every way to identify them. I'm mostly keeping this here as a quick reference for myself while IDing. I may update this in the future as I learn more!

  • Apatelodidae (Apatelodid Moths)
    Medium-sized
    Shades of grey and brown with wavy patterns, though less dense than some Geometrids
    Wings are held flatly at rest, with the hindwings concealed
    Large tufts of hair on the upper potions of the legs, which are absent on the lower half of the legs

  • Crambidae (Crambid Snout Moths)
    Tiny to Small in size
    Have elongated face parts which appear snoutlike
    Very broad and large family

  • Geometridae (Geometer Moths)
    Medium-sized moths with cryptic or green coloring
    Wavy patterns with many or few lines, often extending across both the forewing and hindwing continuously
    Larvae only have legs at the ends of their bodies and move in an "inchworm" fashion

  • Hesperiidae (Skipper Butterflies)
    Small butterflies that fly in a characteristic darting flight pattern
    Antennae have a hook or club shape on the end
    Larger bodies and more neutral colors compared to other butterflies make them appear moth-like

  • Lasiocampidae (Lappet Moths)
    Plump, fluffy bodies which are elongated and often extend past the hindwings
    Rest with wings in a roof formation and often with the frontmost pair of legs extended forward
    Antennae are feather/fern-shaped along their entire length (in contrast with notodontidae, which may have partially pectinated or even completely straight antennae)

  • Lycaenidae (Gossamer-Winged Butterflies)
    Small butterflies, similar in size to skippers
    Grey, spotted undersides with brightly colored (Usually blue, orange or brown) dorsal sides
    Some species have "tails", similar to swallowtails

  • Notodontidae (Prominent Moths)
    Large and fluffy, similar to Lasiocampidae though with less elongated bodies
    Hold wings in roof formation or rolled at rest, with smaller species looking like sticks

  • Nymphalidae (Brush-Footed Butterflies)
    A very broad group which can be many sizes, small to large
    Wing marges may be smooth or irregular, with some having tail-like shapes on the hindwings
    Brightly colored and often black with prominent yellow, red, or orange markings

  • Megalopygidae (Flannel moths)
    Medium-sized with extra fluffy, plump bodies
    Broad wings held in roof formation at rest
    Simple colorations with few or no markings
    Larval stages of some species have painful stings!

  • Pterophoridae (Plume Moths)
    Small
    Characteristic T-shape at rest, slender wings
    Usually neutral coloration

  • Papilionidae (Swallowtail Butterflies)
    Medium to Large in size
    Very often have "tails", though not always
    Similar coloration to Nymphalidae

  • Pyalidae (Pyralid Moths)
    Highly variable and broad family
    Typically have "snouts" like Crambidae
    Many different possible resting postures

  • Saturniidae (Giant Silk Moths)
    Small to Extremely Large, including many of the world's largest moths
    Plump bodies and broad wings usually held to their sides at rest with the hindwings exposed
    Feather or Fern-like antennae which are bushier in males
    Some groups, such as Actias, have tails!

  • Schreckensteiniidae (Bristle-legged Moths)
    A small family with few species, not often seen
    Tiny in size
    Spined legs that appear similar to small, thorned branches
    Legs are raised when at rest

  • Sesiidae (Sesiid Moths)
    Small to Medium-Large moths
    Heavy bodies relative to their delicate, often clear wings
    Almost all species in this family mimic wasps, hornets, bees, etc

  • Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)
    Medium to Large moths
    Rest with their pointed forewings concealing their hindwings, in a characteristic "W" shape"
    May have simple and cryptic colors or dizzyingly complex and bright patterns

  • Tortricidae (Tortricid Moths)
    Small moths in shades of brown or gray
    Wings are held in a flattened roof formation, giving them an arrowhead-like shape

  • Yponomeutidae (Yponomeutid Moths)
    Very tiny
    More colorful compared to other micromoth groups, many have orange colors
    Rest with rolled wings and often one end raised, similar to many moths in Crambidae

  • Zygaenidae (Zygaenid Moths)
    Small, day-flying moths
    Elongated, oval-shaped wings
    Generally metallic and shiny, with prominent red, yellow or orange markings

Posted by mercedes-fletcher mercedes-fletcher, March 31, 2022 20:03

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)

Date

May 20, 2021 02:36 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Double-banded Grass-Veneer (Crambus agitatellus)

Date

July 13, 2021 08:16 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

Date

July 20, 2021 11:13 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Date

July 25, 2021 05:21 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Date

July 28, 2021 03:11 PM EDT

Description

Spotted visiting a hollow joe-pye weed which has been noted in a separate observation

Photos / Sounds

What

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

Date

July 28, 2021 03:25 PM EDT

Description

Cute but not very cooperative, these are the best photos I could get but I hope they're ok! c:

Photos / Sounds

What

Garden Tortrix (Clepsis peritana)

Date

July 30, 2021 09:48 PM EDT

Description

Minuscule

Photos / Sounds

What

Canadian Melanolophia Moth (Melanolophia canadaria)

Date

August 11, 2021 12:12 AM EDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Small-eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops)

Date

August 15, 2021 03:57 PM EDT

Description

Found inside but gently put back outdoors :)

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)

Date

September 8, 2021 10:06 PM EDT

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