Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies, moths and skippers. They make up about 10% of the total living organisms in the world with about 180,000 species. They are of the most widespread and recognizable bugs in the world and are my favorite to photograph because of the colors varieties and wing patterns.
Butterflies, moths, and skippers all have six legs, two antennae, and four wings. They are insects with scales over their bodies and wings. They all have four stages of life. First is the egg stage, second is the larvae or caterpillar stage, third is pupa, and fourth is the adult stage.
There are many differences between these insects. Butterflies are diurnal, meaning they live by day while moths are generally nocturnal. There are some exceptions of course, as there are some diurnal moths and nocturnal butterflies. Butterflies have bright colors while moth colors are more muted. Butterflies use sight to select a mate, while moths use smell. Moths have ears while butterflies cannot detect sound at all. Butterflies have finer scales on their wings, while moths have large scales. Butterflies have a proboscis to drink nectar. Moths have no mouthparts, only the proboscis and use their olfactory sense to find flowers that bloom at night. Moths mostly feed on nectar from flowers, but also from bird droppings, sap, animal dung, rotting fruit, or pollen. Moths have large antennae without knobs. The antennae of a butterfly are long and thin with a knob at the end. A butterfly has a slender body and rests with its wings closed while a moth has stout and hairy bodies that rest with its wings open. In the pupa stage, the butterfly makes chrysalis while hanging from a branch while a moth makes a cocoon on or underground. Skippers have characteristics of both butterflies and moths, although technically a butterfly. They are diurnal like butterflies but have duller colors like a moth. They have thicker bodies like a moth, but antennae like a butterfly. They hold their wings at an angle with fore wings and hind wings separated.Here are some pictures that will show you some of those differences.