We all know there's moths and butterflies, but did you know there are more than 2,000 kinds of "Skippers" as well?
According to the Golden Nature Field Guide, "Skippers are distinguished from true butterflies by the antennae, which are farther apart at the base and end in pointed, curved clubs. Skippers are named for their skipping flight."
Additionally, moths are distinguished from butterflies by multiple attributes, but most simply by the characteristics of their antennae. Butterflies have club-like antennae ending in a swollen tip, while moths' antennae are seldom club-like, and often feathery.
While you may have referred to a butterfly as a caterpillar that hatches from a "cocoon," the term official for the pupate is actually "chrysalis." Moths however, have larvae that spin silken "cocoons" either on the ground or underground.
As I read through this dated field-guide I realized, butterflies really tend to get all the attention but moths are beautifully intricate, their feathery antennae adding another element of delicate complexity. I also realized "Wooly Worms," or as this book calls them, "Wooly Bears," are simply larva forms of the "Isabella Moth" ! For whatever reason I'd never thought of wooly worms as infant forms of moths waiting to spin their cocoon and hatch into something new entirely.
I love learning more about a subject and finding myself entranced by the complexity that I had never taken the time to appreciate.
Photographed above is a Black Swallowtail Butterfly in its larva stage.
Butterflies and Moths: A Guide to the More Common American Species
Robert T. Mitchell & Herbert S. Zim