Butterflies are thought to have evolved from moth millions of years ago and belong to the same insect group known as Lepidoptera (basically meaning that these insects have wings and that the wings have scales.)
Although moths make up the majority of the group at a ratio of about 16 to 1 to that of butterflies, there are still a very large number butterfly species. In the entire world, you can find aproximately 28,000 different butterfly species, 80% of which are found in the tropics. In North America, there are over 700 different species, and Mexico has a count of about 2000 to themselves.
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It’s not too hard to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth. The majority of butterflies stay busy looking for nectar and other nourishment throughout the day and you will more likely run into a moth at night while butterflies are resting. Another way to know is by taking a better look at their antennae. Butterflies have antennae that are like a long shaft with a little thicker piece at the end, similar to a golf club. Moths usually have ones that taper down to a point.
The most common butterfly that exists on our planet is the Cabbage White. On the other end of the spectrum, the rarest butterfly know to man is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing, and is also the biggest. Currently, it’s habitat in the New Guinea rain forest is being destroyed and putting it’s species at risk. Hopefully people soon realize the importance of the rain forest and it’s creatures, including (but certainly not limited to) butterflies, before it’s too late!