Butterflies & Moths – Lepidoptera Pictures & Bio

Lepidoptera means scale wings; lepido = scale, ptera = wings. Wings of butterflies and moths are often covered with a colorful mosaic of minute scales.

The butterfly members of this Order of insects include the popular and usually colorful species. Butterfly groups include monarchs, satyrs, dagerwings, leaf-wings, owls, buckeyes, admirals, checkerspots, crecents, fritillaries, heliconids, riodinids, blues, hairstreaks, coppers, whites, orange-tips, sulphurs and swallowtails.

Creamy Checkerspot Butterfly

This Creamy Checkerspot Butterfly was photographed in the San Francisco Bay Area

Buckeye Butterfly

The Buckeye Butterfly widespread and easily recognized by its prominent eyespots that probably help protect them against inexperience birds.

Orange-Margined Blue Butterfly

The delicate beauty belongs to a group of butterflies known as blues.

Western Pygmy Blue Butterfly

Sometimes no bigger that 3/8″ the Western Pygmy Blue is the smallest butterfly in the western United States.

California Sister Butterfly

This freshly emerged adult California Sister butterfly was sitting on a rock while it finished pumping fluids into its expanding wings.

Western Steep Fritillary Butterfly

An early morning trek to a specific meadow in the Owens Valley of California provided a glimpse at this indigenous subspecies population of Western Steep Fritillary.

Painted Lady Butterfly

The Painted Lady Butterfly is similar to the Virginia Lady and the West Coast Lady. Also known as the thistle butterfly.

Purplish Copper Butterfly

The Purplish Copper is a hardy butterfly, visible when most other species are absent.

Western White Butterfly

Very similar to the checkered white, western whites are found in the north west rather than the southern states. Wing markings vary throughout the year and between male and females.

Harpalus Skipper

Belonging to the geographically varied genus of Holarctic Grass Skippers, this regional subspecies is found on the Eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

Common Checkered Skipper

The wing patternation of the common checkered skipper varies considerably.

Californian Snout Moth

This Pyralid Grass Moth display the protruding labial palps mouthparts characteristic of this group of moths.

Geometrid Moth Nemoria spp.

The Blackfoot Indians of North America believe moths to be the messenger of our dreams.

Heliconid Mimic Butterfly: Eresia spp.

This butterfly was found feeding in Brazil right next to the species it mimicked.

Red Passion Flower Butterfly

Heliconius erato

This butterfly advertises its unpalatability with characteristic orange and black warning coloration

Riodinid Butterfly

Lasia agesilas

There are over 2000 species of Riodinids butterflies which present considerable difficulty for taxonomists to organize.

Dagger Wing Butterfly

Marpesia spp.

Damp spots in the trail are often frequented by this sun and mineral-loving Dagger Wing Butterfly.

Tropical Riodinid Butterfly

This tiny tropical riodinid butterfly from Brazil feeds on epiphylls that grow on the surfaces of vascular plant leaves, especially bromeliads and orchids.

Leaf Wing Butterfly

: Zaretis itys

Caterpillars of this species form frass chains at the ends of leaves. They bind particles of their droppings together with silk resulting in a jumble of debris.

Owl Butterfly

Opsiphanes spp.

Belonging to the same family of butterflies as the famous Owl Butterflies, this Opsiphanes genus contains about ten different species which can be challenging to differentiate.

Map Wing Butterfly

Hypanartia lethe

This Map Wing Butterfly gets it’s name from the ornate pattern and coloration found on the underside of the hind and fore wings pictured here.

Satyr Butterfly

Euptychia hermes

Satyrid butterflies bear the popular name wood nymph and are characterized by low-level dodging flight.

Riodinid Butterfly

Caria mantinea amazonica

This species exhibits a midday sunning characteristic, while others Riodinids are much more elusive.

Brush-footed Butterfly

Eueides aliphera

This stunning Brazilian Heliconid butterfly presents its elongated wings with bright orange an jet black coloration as it drinks from mineral rich puddles.

Clearwing Butterfly

These ethereal and delicate tropical forest butterflies are often lured out of their seclusion by the chemicals found in dried Heliotropes.

Tropical White Butterflies

Ascia orseis

Mud puddling is one of the favorite pastime of these male Ascia butterflies.

Riodinid Butterfly: Rettus periander

Riodinids are tropical butterflies with a reputation for being least understood and extremely varied in color, form and behavior.

Riodinid Butterfly Rettus periander Underwing

A small patch of sunlight blessed the spot which attracted this showoff species deep within the forest.

Tussock Moth

In this case the endearing and almost human-like characteristics of this extremely hairy moth.

Silk Moth Caterpillar

Caterpillar represent the second of four life stages found in insects with complete metamorphosis.

Tropical Skipper

Differentiated from true butterflies or a moths, skippers are characterized by their stout bodies, short wings, large heads and curve tipped antennae.

Noctuid Moth

Many male moths have elaborate antennas to comb the evening air for molecules of pheromones emitted by potential mates.

Tarantula Mimic Moth

While many moths have a reputation for being hairy beasts, this one takes the prize.

Silk Moth

Looking more like a leaf, this tropical silk moth held on with its front two feet and swayed in the breeze along with the surrounding foliage.

Clear-Winged Moth

The unusual bright coloration of this moth forms part of an elaborate wasp mimic charade that includes, coloration, flight behavior, buzzing noise of the wings in flight.

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx moths are also known as hummingbird moths for their ability to hover in front of flowers and sip the sweet nectar.


While some insect go to great lengths to conceal themselves with camouflage others advertise the fact that the are either dangerous of distasteful.

Golden Emperor Loepa katinka

Adult moths have primitive mouthparts and do not feed.

Underwing Moth

Cryptic forewings for camouflage against bark during the day yet when disturbed, they flash their bright disorienting colored underwings as a second line of defense

Mantis-Mimic Moth

This Indonesian moth is probably mimicking the raptorial legs of a praying mantis.

Epiplima Moth

Some Indonesian Moths truly push the boundaries of what we associate as typical moth form.

Snout Moth

It is interesting to ponder why moths that are primarily active during the night would employ such varied coloration.

Geometrid Moth

Most moths have bilateral symmetry but this large group of moths know as Geometrids are striking for the variety of “zigzag” markings and wings with serrated edges.

Hook-Tip Leaf Moth

Looking like a decomposing leaf, this hook-tip moth has a central rib marking to mimic the vein of a leaf.

Looper Moth

Adorned with strangely shaped tufts of hair on its thorax and abdomen and a striking golden metallic swatch on each forewing, this Noctuid moth is trying to resemble a bird dropping.

Bombicid Moth

Showing beauty through simplicity of design, this male moth displays a fine pair of feathered antennae.

Wasp-Mimic Moth

The waxy and transparent scales of this Sesiid moth simulate the membranous wings of the wasps they mimic.

Grass Moth

Two types of randomly placed scale cells appear on moth wings.

Hook-Tip Moth

Adult Drepanid moths are unable to feed as they possess a very poorly developed tongue.

Swallowtail Butterfly Papilio spp.

Large congregations of this swallowtail butterfly are found along the banks of an Indonesian river as they drink minerals.

Nymphalid Butterfly

These butterflies exhibit strong and confident flight characteristics and are also attracted to the higher concentrations of minerals along the river banks.

Death’s Head Hawk Moth Acherontia spp.

Much superstition surrounding this moth species due to the skull motif on the thorax.

Hawk Moth

Setting up a light trap on a hillside in Sulawesi attracted a tremendous variety of sphinx moths with cryptic wing coloration and patternation mimicking leaf venation.

Silk Moth Antennae

Male antennae are sensitive chemoreceptors, combing out pheromone molecules from the female.

Leaf Mimic Moth

Navajo Indians used the Mothway Myth to encourage clan members to marry outsiders.

Tiger Moth

Tiger moths and are known for their white and orange wings as well as their striped fringe border. These moths feed on plant materials.

Arctiid Moth

Australian fabric sculptor, Annemieke Mein produces tactile works of art inspired by numerous, not so popular insects, including moths.

Small Magpie Moth Eurrhypara spp.

Resembling the geometrid Magpie Moth, the larvae of this moth eats nettles.

Baorisa Moth Baorisa hieroglyphica

This specimen is arguably the most beautiful of the Noctuid moths, resembling an Art Deco, Piet Mondrian creation.