Moth Identification

Written by Karen Bates (last updated October 24, 2022)

When you look outside at night, odds are good that you'll see many moths hanging out around your porch light. If you pay close attention, you'll see that some of these moths look quite unique with different characteristics from one another. You will see a variety of sizes, colors, wing patterns, antennae, and other features on the moths that give them a distinct look.

Perhaps you are interested in learning how to identify the different kinds of moths you see often. You should know, however, that there are many kinds of moths and it would be overwhelming to try to memorize them all. Learning some of the basic moth families can give you a good idea of the kinds of moths out there, though. Next time you see a moth, check to see if it falls under any of these moth families:

  • Sphinx/Hawk Moths. These moths are fairly large with thick bodies.
  • Tiger Moths. Moths in this family are smaller. Their wings tend to be elongated in appearance and have bright markings and colors.
  • Owlet/Underwing Moths. This large moth family has a wide variety of moths within it, but many of them tend to be grey or brown in color.
  • Geometer Moths. These small to medium sized moths have wings that are broad and adorned with wave-like lines. They also have thin bodies.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly since they tend to look quite similar. There are some distinct difference between the two, however. Butterflies usually have more slender bodies than moths, and their wings are often more colorful. Moths also have different antennae that may be feathery, and they are more likely to be out at night whereas butterflies will be out during the day time.

It can be helpful to be able to identify moths so that you know which kinds can be potentially harmful. For instance, some moths can destroy crops or clothing. Some types of harmful moths include clothing moths that do damage to fabrics, codling moths that can ruin fruit crops, and gypsy moths that hurt certain kinds of trees. In most cases, it is actually the larvae that do the damage and not the adult moths.

Although some moths are pests, it can be fascinating to observe and learn more about the different kinds of moths that you see often.

Author Bio

Karen Bates

An English student who enjoys writing and art, Karen has had her poetry published in her university's literary journal and has several novels in the works. ...


Victorian Lamps

Lamps can help you control the lighting in a room. Choosing Victorian lamps to decorate an area will add class and ...

Discover More

Designer Lighting

Adding a designer look to your home can add style and sophistication to your decor. Use designer lighting to get just the ...

Discover More

Dog Cleaning

Your dog may need more cleaning than just a regular bath. Take care of your dog's grooming needs to keep him healthy and ...

Discover More
More Gardening Tips

Getting Rid of Poison Ivy

The only way to completely eradicate your yard of poison ivy is to dig it out at the roots and then apply a herbicide. ...

Discover More

Dealing with Chinch Bugs

If you have ever had chinch bugs before, then you know just how difficult they can be to deal with. It seems like they ...

Discover More

Aphid Control

Aphids are nasty little critters that can easily ruin your vegetable or flower garden if certain steps aren't taken. ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 - 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)