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Butterflies, Moths & Skippers

What is the difference between butterflies, moths, and skippers?

Butterflies: drink and rest with their wings up, but sun themselves with their wings outstretched.  They have smooth antennae with a knob at the end.  Their body hardens into a chrysalis for metamorphosis.  They are active in the daytime.  Some can be quite colourful.

Moths: rest with their wings outstretched along their back, or tented.  Have feathery antennae.  They spin a cocoon with silk for metamorphosis, and some species are active during the night, while others are active during the day.  They are usually muted colours.  Their bodies are usually fuzzier and plumper than that of butterflies.

Skippers:  are often considered a mix between butterflies and moths. They rest usually with their wings angled upwards, sometimes outstretched, although parted, and rarely completely folded upwards.  Like butterflies they are active during the day, and have a smooth antennae with a club end, although the club is often hooked. Like moths they are often a muted colour, often have plumper bodies, and spin a cocoon for metamorphosis.

Newfoundland and Labrador has 55 butterfly species of the 293 found in Canada. 

List of Butterflies and Skippers* and some Moths

Family Common Name Scientific Name Found in:
Host Plant Nectar Source Images 
(All images are taken by Botanical Garden staff except where noted)

Skippers (Hesperiidae)
Arctic or Chequered Skipper  Carterocephalus palaemon NL      
Common Branded/ Labrador Skipper  Hesperia comma NL      
European Skipper  Thymelicus lineola N (rare)      European Skipper
Grizzled Skipper  Pyrgus centaureae NL      
Peck's Skipper  Polites peckius NL      

Blues and Coppers (Lycaenidae)
Arctic Blue Agriades glandon NL      Arctic Blue Butterfly
Bog Copper  Lycaena epixanthe N      
Brown Elfin  Callophrys augustinus NL   Blueberry  
Dorcas Copper  Lycaena dorcas NL      
Greenish Blue  Plebejus saepiolus L      
Northern Blue  Lycaeides idas NL       
Silvery Blue  Glaucopsyche lygdamus NL      
Spring Azure  Celastrina ladon NL      Spring Azure Butterfly

Butteflies (Papilionidae)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail  Papilio canadensis N      Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Catterpillar Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Short-tailed Swallowtail  Papilio brevicauda NL Angelica, cow-parsnip, Scotch lovage    Short Tailed Swallowtail Caterpillar Short Tailed Swallowtail Butterfly



Common Name Scientific Name Found in:
Host Plant Nectar Source Images

Brushedfoot Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

American Lady Vanessa virginiensis NL Sunflower family, pearly everlasting Dogbane, aster, goldenrod, marigold, selfheal, and vetch  American Painted Lady Butterfly
Atlantis Fritillary Speyeria atlantis NL  Violets Mints, mountain laurel, crown vetch, burdock, boneset, ox-eye daisy, and spiraea  
Bog Fritillary Boloria eunomia NL      
Common Ringlet Coenonympha tullia NL Grasses and rushes Flower nectar  
Compton Tortoiseshell Nymphalis vaualbum      
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma N      
Freija Fritillary Boloria freija NL      
Frigga Fritillary Boloria frigga L      
Gray Comma Polygonia progne N      
Green Comma  Polygonia faunus NL Small pussy willow, black birch, alder, western azalea, and gooseberry Flower nectar, dung, carrion  Green Comma Green Comma Butterfly
Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis L Currants and gooseberries, western azalea, and mock azalea Sap and nectar from flowers of sweet everlasting  
Jutta Arctic Oeneis jutta NL       
Meadow Fritillary Boloria bellona      
Melissa Arctic Oeneis melissa      
Milbert's Tortiseshell Nymphalis milbereti NL  Nettles Thistles, goldenrods, and lilacs; sap and rotting fruit  Milbert's Tortoise Shell Butterfly Milbert's Tortoise Shell Butterfly
Monarch Danaus plexippus N (accidental) Milkweed (not native to Newfoundland) Milkweeds, dogbane, lilac, red clover, thistles, and goldenrods  Monarch Butterfly
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa NL  Willows, American elm, cottonwood, aspen, paper birch Prefer tree sap, especially of oaks. Will feed on rotting fruit, and rarely flower nectar  Mourning Cloak Butterfly
Northern Crescent Phyciodes cocyta NL      
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui NL      Painted Lady Butterfly
Polaris Fritillary Phyciodes cocyta      
Polixenes Arctic Oeneis polixenes NL  Grasses and sedges    
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis N Nettles and elms Rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion. Only when these are unavailable do Question Marks visit flowers such as asters.  
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta NL Nettles Prefer sap flows, fermenting fruit, and bird droppings; visiting flowers only when these are not available. Then they will nectar at red clover, aster, and alfalfa  Red Admiral
Ross' Alpine Erebia rossii L      
Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus Nettles Tree sap, rotting fruit, blackberry flower necar  
Silver-bordered Fritillary  Boloria selene NL  Violets Goldenrod and black-eyed susans  
Taiga Alpine  Erebia mancinus L Sedges or grasses    
White Admiral Limenitis arthemis NL Pin cherry aspen, poplar, oaks, hawthorn, birch, willows, and chuckley pear Sap, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, and occasionally nectar from small white flowers including spiraea, privet, and viburnum. White Admirals also sip aphid honeydew  White Admiral Butterfly
White Veined Arctic Oeneis bore L (accidental)       
Sulphurs and Whites (Pieridae)      Clouded Sulphur  Colias philodice N      
Hecla Sulphur Colias hecla L      
Labrador Sulphur Colias nastes Plants of the pea family including milk vetch and white clover    
Mustard White Pieris oleracea NL Mustard family plants Mustard family plants  
Orange Sulphur  Colias eurytheme Pea family plants and white clover  Dandelion, goldenrods, and asters  
Palaeno Sulphur  Colias palaeno L      
Pelidne Sulphur  Colias pelidne NL  Blueberries, wintergreen, and heaths    
Pink-edged Sulphur  Colias interior NL Blueberries and heaths Orange hawkweed  
Cabbage White Pieris rapae N Leaves or buds of: cabbage, Brussel sprouts, Bok Choy, kale, beets Mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints Cabbage White Butterfly
Family Common Name Scientific Name
Found in:
Host Plant   Nectar Source Images
Owlet Moths & Miller Moths (Noctuidae) Fingered Dagger Moth Acronicta dactylina   N Alders, birches, poplars, and willows    
Intermediate Cucullia Cucullia intermedia   N Wild lettuce    
Two-Spotted Looper Moth Autographa bimaculata         
Wavy Chestnut Y Moth Autographa mappa    Nettles and blueberry    
Formosa Looper Moth Chrysanympha formosa    Blueberry and dwarf huckleberry    
  Cerapteryx graminis        
  Trichordestra tacoma        
Two-spot Dart Eueretagrotis perattenta         
American Brindle Lithomoia germana         
  Xestia oblata        
  Xestia perquiritata        
Erebid Moths (Erebidae)       Virginia Ctenucha Ctenucha virginica    Grasses, irises, sedges    
Spotted Tussock Moth or Yellow-Spotted Tiger Moth Lophocampa maculata         
St. Lawrence Tiger Moth Platarctia parthenos         
Virginian Tiger Moth or Yellow Woolybear Moth Spilosoma virginica         
(White) Satin Moth Leucoma salicis         
Rusty Tussock Moth Orgyia antiqua         
White-marked Tussock Moth Orgyia leucostigma         
Family Common Name Scientific Name Found in:
Host Plant Nectar Source Images
Crambid Snout Moths (Crambidae) Wide-stripe Grass-veneer Moth Crambus unistriatellus        
Small Magpie Eurrhypara hortulata        
Pterophorid Moths, Plume Moths (Pterophoridae) Morning-glory Plume Moth Emmelina monodactyla         
Geometer Moths, Looper Moths 
Pale Beauty Campaea perlata         
Hemlock Looper Lambdina fiscellaria         
Pale Metanema Metanema inatomaria         
Large Maple Spanworm Moth Prochoerodes lineola         
Sharp-lined Yellow Sicya macularia         
Dark Marbled Carpet Dysstroma citrata         
White-banded Black Rheumaptera subhastata         
White-striped Black Trichodezia albovittata         
Welsh Wave Venusia cambrica         
Hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms
Hummingbird moth Hemaris diffinis  N (L?) Honeysuckle, viburnum, hawthorn, snowberry, cherry, mint, and plum Dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, and Canada violet  
Laurel sphinx Sphinx kalmiae N Mountain laurel, lilac, mountain holly   Laurel Sphinx


*Text source adapted from:

Additional text from Butterflies and Moths (.org) website: