Save on Pinterest

12 Pictures That Will Change the Way You Look At Moths

Butterflies may get all the glory, but these pretty moth pictures prove that some species of moths are just as beautiful and colorful.

A cecropia moth perches on a gerber daisy.Courtesy of Carol Ecker

Cecropia Moth

Carol Ecker of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, captured beautiful moth pictures. She says, “I watched this cecropia moth emerge out of its cocoon and dry its wings on a gerbera daisy in my garden. I was so happy to see the pretty moth and eventually watch it fly away.”

Did you know: Adult male cecropias find mates from a mile or more away by the pheromones the females produce.

Meet other colorful moths you can see during daytime.

pictures of mothsCourtesy Patricia Wells

Eight Spotted Forester Moth

“I was attempting to capture a close-up of what I thought was a bumblebee on the banks of Polecat Creek in Randleman, North Carolina, but further inspection revealed that it was an eight-spotted forester moth. It was wonderful to catch a glimpse of this elusive moth sipping nectar from a beautiful dogwood, and to watch this pollinator doing nature’s work,” says Patricia Wells of Yorktown, Virginia.

Moth vs butterfly: Here’s how to tell the difference.

moth picturesCourtesy Marina Schultz

Hummingbird Moth

“The white-lined sphinx moth is often referred to as a hummingbird moth—they do get mistaken for hummingbirds! These moths love the zinnias that bloom from summer into fall in my garden,” says Marina Schultz of Fruita, Colorado.

See what a sphinx moth caterpillar and pupa looks like.

moth picturesCourtesy Kerysa Ford

Memorable Moth

High in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona, groves of wildflowers and aspen trees bring the wild Gnophaela discreta (a moth without a common name) by the hundreds. Often you’ll see several at one time on a single flower,” says Kerysa Ford of Phoenix, Arizona.

Learn all about garden moths: important pollinators.

imperial mothCourtesy April Livingston

Imperial Moth

“While pulled over at a rest stop at the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border, I was thrilled to see this imperial moth perfectly framed on a glass brick in the wall of the visitor center. What a surprising welcome to wild and wonderful West Virginia!” says April Livingston of Mobile, Alabama.

Did you know: Adult imperial moths follow a strict schedule. They emerge before sunrise and mate after midnight the next day.

Plant fragrant moonflower to attract moths. Or, you can learn how to attract them with light, too.

moth picturesCourtesy Cherie Heitman

Polyphemus Moth

“My son and my granddaughter Morgan visited me one spring. While playing in the yard, Morgan spotted a “big butterfly lying on the flowers.” It was actually a polyphemus moth that had just emerged from its cocoon and was drying itself. Talk about perfect timing! If it had been only a few minutes later, we might have missed this pretty moth. Its coloring was so perfect. Wow!” says Cherie Heitman of Branson, Missouri.

Did you know: The eye spots on a polyphemus moth’s hindwings are transparent. These moths live in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

Meet the sphinx moths, stars of the evening garden.

moth picturesCourtesy Brenda Doherty

Perfect Pose

“I saw this beautiful cecropia moth at my neighbor’s place. It had recently emerged and wasn’t able to fly away right away, so it was easy for me to quickly snap pretty moth pictures,” says Brenda Doherty of Ariss, Ontario.

Discover fascinating facts about cecropia moths.

A regal moth sitting on a wooden railing.Courtesy of Stephanie Perry

Regal Moth

“I was walking to my Sunday school class and noticed this regal moth sitting on a railing between classrooms,” says Stephanie Perry of Fruithurst, Alabama. “It was very fitting because we had just wrapped up our vacation Bible school program titled ‘Into the Wild.'”

Meet the vast (and fast!) skipper butterflies.

A white-lined sphinx moth sips nectar from a flower.Courtesy of Martin Gilchrist

White-Lined Sphinx Moth

Martin Gilchrist of Milaca, Minnesota, says that he didn’t have his camera with him when he saw his first white-lined sphinx moth. He says, “I spent the next few days, with my Canon EOS 7D in hand, roaming my gardens until I saw it again.”

Learn how to identify a hummingbird clearwing moth.

A luna moth rests on a tree.Courtesy Jason Nibbe

Pretty Luna Moth Picture

“For 44 years I have lived in Minnesota and I had never seen a luna moth before,” says Jason Nibbe of Lake City, Minnesota. “I was doing some work when this one buzzed my head and landed about 10 feet away, as if begging me to take moth pictures. I was more than happy to oblige.”

Discover 5 more silk moths that might be in your yard.

A rosy maple moth sitting on a wire grate.Courtesy of Cynthia Raper

Rosy Maple Moth

“It’s beautiful!” says Cynthia Raper of Amory, Mississippi. “In all my 58 years, I had never seen a rosy maple moth. I discovered this pretty moth at our old refurbished trailer about an hour north of my home. I’ve seen several firsts there.”

Check out 8 crazy cool caterpillars you might find in your yard.

An eight-spotted forester moth on a raspberry plant.Courtesy of Bernie Stang

Morning Moth

Bernie Stang of Paynesville, Minnesota, says, “I sat in my sister-in-law’s garden early in the morning, waiting for bugs and butterflies that I could photograph. The golden hour, right as the sun was rising, was beyond peaceful. This eight-spotted forester moth was visiting a raspberry plant, perching on the leaves.”

Next, check out the top 10 butterfly host plants to attract pollinators.

Rachel Maidl
Rachel Maidl is a senior editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. She enjoys bird-watching in her urban backyard and local state parks, gardening for pollinators and researching new plants. Her favorite backyard visitors are the bumblebees that visit her sedums.