How are moths different than butterflies?

Sam and I spotted the LARGEST moth I’ve ever seen on the Pillbox trail in Lanikai two weeks ago. We researched the web, checked a book out of the library, and even got to talk to the state entomologist (my first time speaking to a real entomologist! cool!). As far as we can tell, this large moth was introduced, not native, although Hawaii does have some very large moths in residence. The creature was 4″-5″ from head to tail (?) and about 3″-4″ across. It’s wings were not spread, so I don’t have a wingspan. Here’s what I know about moths so far:

They have a pupa stage just like butterflies, but spend it underground instead of in a chrysalis. Butterflies have a little bulb at the end of their antennae, whereas moths do not. Anecdotal wisdom says butterflies are more colorful than moths – this is generally true although there are some very colorful moths out there. Moths are nocturnal – they rest during the day and are active at night. They feed on nectar from flowers just as butterflies do.

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