There is no unambiguous characteristic for the difference between a macro butterfly and a micro butterfly. At first, you would say size is the obvious attribute. Of course, macro butterflies are usually larger than micro butterflies, but there are also exceptions. A front wing length of 10 mm is often used as a limit, but there are already many grass moths that are larger and still belong to the micro butterflies.
Besides the division into macros and micros, the macro butterflies can also be divided into day and night butterflies. This classification can also be confusing, as there are moths that are active during the day. Yet there is a distinctive difference. The end of the antenna of butterflies is club-shaped and of the moths, it is wire-shaped or even in the shape of a bird’s feather (males). An exception to this are the drops of blood (Zygaeninae) that have a club-shaped end of the antenna but can be distinguished as a moth by their resting position. In the Netherlands, there are more than 900 macro moths and more than 50 macro day-active butterflies.
The number of butterfly species is under serious threat. Intensification of agriculture, urbanization and the climate means that some species are almost or no longer present in the Netherlands. More and more you see that special areas are created with wildflowers and herbs that can serve as host plants for the butterflies.
The macro moths are an underestimated group of butterflies. Not only do many people think they are dull coloured butterflies, but it turns out that they are also very important in agricultural ecosystems. During the daytime, it is often bees and bumblebees that provide pollen transfer, but the moths play an equally important role when visiting wild plants. Their body, where the pollen sticks to after a visit, ensures the important transport. If the moth population were to shorten, this would lead to a significant decrease in pollen transport and thus a threat to the survival of certain plant families.
Day-active Macro Butterflies:
|Brush-footed Butterflies||Gossamer-wing Butterflies||Skippers|
|Swallowtails||Whites and Sulphurs|
|Burnets||Carpenter & Leopard Moths||Erebid Moths|
|Geometer Moths||Ghost Moths||Hooktip Moths|
|Lasiocampid Moths||Owlet Moths||Prominent Moths|
|Sphinx & Hawkmoths||Tuft Moths||Tussock Moths|