Simple key to major moth groups.  The silhouettes are general in nature, and there are exceptions in each group.

* Some of the moth silhouettes are from BugGuide.net http://bugguide.net/node/view/21675

 

(Hover on the moth silhouette and           to view album)

Silkworm Moths

Moderate-sized moths having larvae that feed on leaves and spin cocoons of commercially usable silk and including the domesticated silkworms (genus Bombyx).

CALLIDULIDAE

Butterfly Moths

Distinguished by their resting posture, which is the most butterfly-like, with the wings held closely over the back. 

CHOREUTIDAE

Metalmark Moths

Small moths often bearing metallic scales and are mostly day-flying (some also come to lights), with a jerky, pivoting behaviour, and may fluff up their wings at an extreme angle.

COSSIDAE

Cossid Millers

These moths are mostly grey in color; some have long narrow wings and resemble hawkmoths. Many are twig, bark or leaf mimics.

Grass Moths

Variable in appearance.  Some are inconspicuous, while other subfamilies include brightly coloured and patterned insects which rest in wing-spread attitudes.

Hook-tip Moths

Medium-sized, broad-winged moths with short bodies. Many species in the Drepanid family have a distinctively hook-shaped apex to the forewing, leading to their common name of hook-tips.

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NOLIDAE

Tuft Moths

They are mostly small with dull coloration, the main distinguishing feature being a silk cocoon with a vertical exit slit. The group is sometimes known as tuft moths after the tufts of raised scales on the forewings of two subfamilies

NOTODONTIDAE

Prominent Moths

Species of this family tend to be heavy-bodied and long-winged, the wings held folded across the back of the body at rest. They rarely display any bright colours, usually being mainly grey or brown.

PSYCHIDAE

Bagworm or Bagmoths

The males of which have thinly scaled or nearly transparent wings while the females are wingless and wormlike.

PTEROPHORIDAE

Plume Moths

Adult moth's wings are very slender, held at right-angles to body when at rest, giving a T-shaped profile as viewed from above.

PYRALIDAE

Pyralid Moths

They have long legs and a beak like proboscis, which is covered in scales. Their forewings are triangular in shape with broader hind wings, and have a tendency to sit with their wings open and forming a distinct triangle.

SATURNIIDAE

Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths

Adults are characterized by large size, heavy bodies covered in hair-like scales, lobed wings, reduced mouthparts, and small heads. They lack a frenulum but the hind wings overlap the forewings, producing the same effect of an unbroken wing surface.

SPHINGIDAE

Hawk and Sphinx Moths

They are moderate to large in size and are distinguished among moths for their rapid, sustained flying ability. Their narrow wings and streamlined abdomens are adaptations for rapid flight.

THYRIDIDAE

Picture-Winged Leaf Moths

Adults usually have a characteristic, fine, reticulated wing pattern and distinctive resting posture, with the body raised at a steep angle and the wings expanded.

TORTRICIDAE

Tortrix or Leafroller Moths

Adults are typically nocturnal with cryptically colored forewings in gray, brown, rust, or tan, occasionally with colorful markings. At rest, wings are held like a flattened roof, giving the resemblance of an arrowhead.

URANIIDAE

Swallowtail and Scoopwing Moths

The day-flying species are usually more strikingly colored and vibrant than the nocturnal individuals. Many diurnal species also have iridescent scales and multiple tails, which often lead them to be mistaken for butterflies.

ZYGAENIDAE

Zyganid, Burnet or Forester Moths

Zygaenid moths are typically day-flying with a slow, fluttering flight, and with rather clubbed antennae. They generally have a metallic sheen and often prominent spots of red or yellow.

OTHER Moth Families

Micro-moths, Clearwings, Long-horns, etc.

Moths not included in the major moth albums.

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EREBIDAE, ARCTIINAE

Tiger, Footmen, Lichen and Wasp Moths or Woolly Bears

Usually have bright colours, footmen (which are usually much drabber), lichen moths, and wasp moths. Many species have 'hairy' caterpillars which are popularly known as woolly bears or woolly worms.

EREBIDAE, AGANAINAE

Snouted Tiger Moths

They are most easily recognized by the typical wing shape, the usually bright colours and the large porrected palpae (snout).

EREBIDAE, BOLETOBIINAE

* No common name

The Boletobiinae are a subfamily of moths in the Erebidae family.  The tribe-level groupings of genera within this expanded Boletobiinae subfamily are a topic of continued study.

EREBIDAE, CALPINAE

Fruit Piercing Moths

Both sexes of adults can pierce ripening fruit, penetrate the skin and pulp of fruit with their modified mouthparts (proboscis) which is armed with saw teeth to withdraw juice.

EREBIDAE, EREBINAE

Underwing Moths and Allies

Many of the species in the subfamily are large. Some of these large moths, such as those in Catocala and related genera, have brightly colored hindwings used as distraction displays. 

EREBIDAE, HERMINIINAE

Litter Moths

The members of the subfamily are called litter moths because the caterpillars of most members feed on dead leaves of plants, though others feed on living leaves.

EREBIDAE, HYPENINAE

Snout Moths

They are characterized by their triangular shape and long palps resembling a snout.

EREBIDAE, LYMANTRIINAE

Tussock Moths

They usually have muted colours (browns and greys), although some are white, and tend to be very hairy.

EREBIDAE

Other Erebid Moths

Erebid moths from other sub-families not included in the major albums.

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EUPTEROTIDAE

Monkey Moth

Family of large moths having strongly pectinate antennae and lacking proboscis and tympanum. The Caterpillars of this family are very hairy, and the hairs can often cause skin irritation in sensitive people.

EUTELIIDAE

Euteliid Moths

Adults of this group typically rest with their wings folded and their abdomen curled upward, leading them to look like dried leaves.

GEOMETRIDAE

Geometer Moths

Adults usually have slender bodies and relatively large, broad forewings, often crossed by thin wavy lines. Many geometrid moths hold their wings away from the body and flat against the substrate.

LASIOCAMPIDAE

Eggars and Lappet Moths

They are called 'lappet moths' due to the decorative skin flaps found on the caterpillar's prolegs. The name 'eggars' comes from the neat egg-shaped cocoons of some species.

LIMACODIDAE

Slug Moths

They are small, hairy moths, with reduced or absent mouthparts and fringed wings. They often perch with their abdomens sticking out at 90° from their thoraces and wings.

NOCTUIDAE

Owlet Moths

Family of robustly built moths. Most have drab forewings, although some have brightly coloured hindwings. Differences between the sexes are usually few.

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© 2015 Philippine Lepidoptera Butterflies and Moths, Inc.  (PhiLep)

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