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Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths Around Las Vegas
Invertebrates Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas

Butterflies, skippers, and moths (Taxonomic Order: Lepidoptera; or commonly "lepidopterans") are insects with two pairs of membranous wings. Butterflies and Skippers tend to be brightly colored, fly during the day, and have antennae with long stalks and a knob on the end. In contrast, moths tend to be drably colored, fly at night, and have long, feathery antennae. Butterflies also tend to rest with their wings held together vertically over their back, while moths tend to rest with their wings folded over their body (like a pup-tent) or spread out flat against the substrate.

Adult lepidopterans may or may not feed, but they all fly, mate, and lay eggs. Many species are quite specific in their needs; they will only feed and lay eggs on certain species of plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which range from big and green to small and hairy and everything in between. Caterpillars feed, grow, and then become dormant, forming in a silken cocoon or just hiding in the soil. While dormant, they (now a pupa) metamorphose into the adult form, then "hatch" into a fully formed adult ... and the cycle of life repeats.

There are some 125,000 species of butterflies, skippers, and moths worldwide, with some 12,000 in North America and hundreds of species in Nevada. I have no intention of listing all of them; my intent is to present a few species of interesting lepidopterans.

While a few species of lepidopterans are agricultural pests, most a harmless. Lepidopterans function in the desert ecosystem as important pollinators and important food sources for a variety of mammals, lizards, birds, and amphibians. They are also a delight to watch and add magnificent color to the desert scenery.

For More Information: For general information, see the Butterflies and Moths website.



Families of Butterflies in Nevada:
  • Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
  • Gossamer-wing Butterflies (Lycaenidae)
  • Metalmarks (Riodinidae)
  • Parnassians and Swallowtails (Papilionidae)
  • Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae)
Grass Skipper (Hesperiidae) Skippers Families of Skippers in Nevada:
  • Skippers (Hesperiidae)
Moth Moths Families of Moths in Nevada:
  • Oecophorid Moths (Oecophoridae)
  • Owlet Moths, Miller Moths (Noctuidae)
  • Prominents (Notodontidae)
  • Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)
  • Thyatirid Moths (Thyatiridae)
  • Tiger Moths and Lichen Moths (Arctiidae)
  • Tussock Moths (Lymantriidae)
  • Wild Silk Moths (Saturniidae)
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130102

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