White butterflies are not moths. Butterflies and moths are both in the order Lepidoptera, but they are different families. Butterflies belong to the family Papilionidae while moths belong to one of several families, including Noctuidae, Geometridae, and Arctiidae.
Moths have a wider variety of wing shapes and colors than butterflies. Many moths are nocturnal, hiding during the day and flying at night.
Butterflies are diurnal, meaning they fly during the day. There is also a difference in antennae shape between butterflies and moths, although this is not always an easy way for non-experts to tell them apart.
Butterfly antennae have clubbed tips, while moth antennae can be feathered or even threadlike.
Are all white butterflies cabbage moths?
No, all-white butterflies are not cabbage moths.
There is another all-white butterfly that flies in gardens, and this is the Large White (Pieris brassicae), a much bigger, bolder butterfly which has black tips on its forewings. This species is a serious pest of brassicas. Other members of the cabbage white family (the Pieris) include the Green-veined White, Orange Tip, and Small White.
There are many more white butterflies besides the cabbage whites, and these include such species as the Clouded Yellow, Bath White, Holly Blue, and Wood White. When looking at the cabbage whites, lookout for a single black dot on the top of each wing tip on the Small White. This is not present on the Large White, but it does have black tips on its forewings.
What is the difference between a white butterfly and a moth?
Despite their similarities, there are some differences between butterflies and moths.
Appearance: Butterflies typically have a slender body with long antennae and clubbed ends. Butterfly wings are multicolored with patterns, but the patterns are not symmetrical. Moths have bodies that are more stout than those of butterflies, while their antennae have a clubbed end with a comb-like appearance on a stout hair shaft. Moth wings are usually dull in color but can be brightly colored, while their wing patterns may be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Behavior: Most butterflies typically have their wings closed when resting, whereas moths have their wings open. Butterflies have antennae that are much longer and thinner than those moths. Butterflies generally fly and eat during the day, while moths generally fly and eat at night. Butterflies have proboscises while moths do not.
Thus, White butterflies that get mistaken for moths belong to a specific family of butterflies—the Pieridae. Unlike many moths, pierid butterflies have club-shaped antennae, which is how you can tell them apart from moths. Butterflies of this family, such as the common white admiral (Limenitis arthemis), have white wings with black wingtips and orange spots near their tails.