| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Moths are abundant across much of the world, some striking in appearance and others not likely to catch your eye.
Illinois is home to 1,850 species of moths, with moths and butterflies combined representing one of the largest groups of insects in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Like butterflies, moths go through metamorphosis, according to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Their life cycle has four stages: egg; larva, which is the feeding stage; pupa, or the transition stage; and adult, the reproductive stage. The eggs hatch into caterpillars (larva), which grow much larger before most create a cocoon, or the pupa stage. (Some moth species complete their pupa stage underground rather than creating a cocoon.) From the cocoon, the adult moth will emerge.
Moths are similar to butterflies, but there are several key differences. For one thing, many moths are nocturnal, while butterflies are diurnal, or active during the day. Butterflies are also typically more colorful than moths. This is because butterflies attract mates with their color, while moths use their sense of smell to find a mate, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
The antennae of moths and butterflies are also different. While butterflies have club-shaped antennae, moth antennae taper to a point. Moth antennae are also typically more elaborate, which enhances their sense of smell.
Here’s a closer look at some of the spectacular moths — and their caterpillars — we see in our area.