But there are handy rules for the amateur and if there are exceptions to all of them, that merely proves them. The simplest is that all butterflies fly by day and most moths at night. There are certainly fewer human observers around at night, of course, should a butterfly venture forth, but neither I nor anyone I know has ever had one come to the trap.
Plenty of moths fly by day, however, and many of them are gaily-coloured which makes a second common rule, that butterflies are brightly and moths dull, too dodgy to accept, so I have shaded it grey. Having said that, I think it is quite useful for beginners as a general rule of thumb and it relates to the next one: butterflies and moths operate their wings differently.
That brings in my picture, because almost all butterflies rest with their wings raised above their bodies like the moth in my photograph (hence the title of the post). Moths almost always fold their wings flat and back like a diver or jetplane as you can see at your leisure via most pictures on this blog's past posts. This is in part due to the frenulum which connects fore- and hindwings, which moths have and butterflies don't. It accounts for the high-speed, whirring, dippy-dodging flight of moths compared with the airy floating of butterflies (albeit a floating which can put on an impressive turn of speed, as birds and entomological photographers know).
|Read this and think of butterflies|
|The rakish Angle Shades, one of the most jetplaney of moths|
|An Orange Swift, casting doubt on nomenclature. This is a female; in a mothy |
tweak on Adam and Eve, it's the male that gets the orange
|I think that this is a Yellow-barred Brindle, though why it gets that name eludes |
me; maybe because its green gradually fades to yellow
|And here's another one, illustrating the differences within a species. The weird |
thing top right is the leg of an eggbox's cartoon Happy Hen
|Another exception to the rules: delicate Laura Ashley moths such as this|
Common Wave often rest with their wings spread wide, a habit shared with
butterflies. But they never hold them up, like the moth in my first pic today