Moths vs Butterfly Symbolism. What’s the Difference?

Like moths, we have often seen in texts the use of butterflies to represent vital concepts and philosophies. As we’ve found through viewing several examples of moth representations, the metamorphosis these lepidoptera undertake is marveled by humans and has meant a range of things to different cultures, religions and communities.


From a symbolic perspective this is where similarities end, with the typically more colored wing patterns of the butterfly evoking generally more optimistic and uplifting meanings. We’ll be looking into how moth symbolism differs from that of its closest relative; the butterfly.


Physical Differences

The key physical differences between moths and butterflies can be subtle, although obvious differences can be seen when comparing particular species. The antennae of moths have a feathery texture, which is rather fuzzy and thick. In contrast, butterflies typically have thin, slender and smooth antennae, which are often less noticeable as a result.

There’s also a few key difference with wings. Butterflies possess the ability to fold their wings back, while moths keep their wings spread out. Butterflies also typically possess far more vibrant color patterns on their wingspan than moths, although there are exceptions to this (such as the Cinnabar Moth and the Madagascan Sunset Moth).

Butterflies also express differing behaviors to that of moths, with butteflies being a diurnal creature (while moths are almost always nocturnal).


Symbolic Differences

Butterflies have a range of symbolic meanings around the world, some of these which completely contrast to those of moths. Some of the most common differences include:


Optimism and Negativity

Butterflies are a common ingredient to scenes of mirth and bliss. The Native Americans associate butterflies with infectious joy that is passed on to all of nature. Butterflies help pollinate the flowers in spring, meaning they are further spreading beauty in our natural environment.

Often considered an omen of death, the moth doesn’t get the optimistic likenings of its close relative. It’s worth noting, however, that moths too play a part in pollenating, operating the noctural night shift along with bats.



Butterflies are an elegant creature. They fly with a certain kind of grace, almost gliding with the breeze. Elegance goes hand in hand with feminity and female qualities, as does grace.

The beauty of the butterfly, with its colorful wing patterns and symmetry, is also emblematic of the purity and beauty of the female gender.



Having been used as a decoration in homes to symbolise transformation, growth and sensuality, butterflies have now grown to symbolise decoration as a concept itself. In Feng Shui, butterflies are a popular wall decoration used to symbolise love, beauty and romance. Despite this, it is considered extremely bad Feng Shui to hang a dead butterfly on your wall – you’ve been warned!

Moths are also considered a token of love, but are almost always overlooked by Feng Shui practitioners. The more positive connotations associated with butterflies are undoubtedly a cause of this.

Moths in The Bible

The Bible references moths throughout many of its books, where the moths represent a range of different concepts. The verses tend to focus on the moth’s physical impact on society, often likening a moth to destruction and despair.

We’ve put together a compilation of key reference to moths in the Bible, categorised by the symbolism in each.


In the New Testament, the Book of Matthew (6:19) states:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal”

The verse as a whole is a plea for us not to live with a focus on wealth and possessions, as in time these won’t amount for a great deal. The rust will erode possessions, as the moth will to garments.

We should all focus on being good to others and less on personal success.


Through numerous verses in the Bible, moths are referenced as a destroyer of clothing. Here’s an example from the Old Testament (Isaiah 50:9)

“Who is Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.”

Clothes were a clear representation of prosperity in Biblical times, with this verse again highlighting the futility of focusing on material goods. It is another reminder of our little time on this planet, and urges us to make the most of it.

This is a common theme throughout the Old Testament in particular. Here’s a verse from King James (5:1-2):

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.”

Have you come across any additional verses of moth symbols in the Bible? Comment below and we’ll look in to them!

Infographic: What Did That Moth Mean?

To give our readers a quick visual idea of what a recent appearance could relate to, we’ve put together a super quick infographic that details 6 of the most common concepts moths represent.


moth meanings infographic


Looking for a bit more depth on any of these concepts? Our in-depth guide to moth symbolism will ensure that you’ve got more clarity on what is going on. In case you’re wondering, here are the questions we commonly deal with around this infographic.


How does this differ between moth species?

The majority of symbolic meanings surrounding moths transcend species, although there are some exceptions. One of these is the luna moth, whose unique characteristics mean it’s often treated with differing connotations.


Does the color of the moth matter?

Somewhat, as colors attract different interpretations from a spiritual perspective. We recommend reviewing our guide on white moths to get a feel for the impact color plays in any encounter.


Is killing a moth bad luck?

This has been touched on in several of our guides, and it often a topic of debate when the situation presents itself to us. From a superstitious perspective, it is very much considered bad luck to kill a moth, namely because they are said to carry to soul of an important person in our life. Killing a moth is also associated with death and incurable sickness.


In saying this, I recently killed a moth unintentionally that was lurking in my wardrobe. Touch wood it doesn’t bring me harm!

White Moth Symbolism

Although many of our moth symbolism is of positive connotations, there are considerably less optimistic meanings to encounters with a white moth.

Not for the faint-hearted, it is very difficult to find a white moth that expresses anything less than a negative. At least from a symbolic perspective! If you’ve seen a white moth, here’s a few thoughts into what it symbolises.

The White Moth Symbolises Death

I warned you that this wasn’t for the faint hearted!

Across a range of different cultures,  most notably Latin culture, the presence of a moth in a room of your house could represent the immenent death of a loved one.

This is also in many cultures to represent incurable illness. As a result of this, it is dealt with great stress and apprehension to be in the presence of a white moth.

White Moth Symbolism and Souls

In Asian cultures, we often hear of the white moth representing the soul of a loved one. The owner of the soul varies between traditions however, with the Japanese believing it to be the soul of a living being. Conversely, ancient Chinese texts have stated the white moth symbolised a deceased soul.

This is not exclusive to Asian Culture though. Jamaicans consider the white moth to be a soul that is disrupted and not at rest. They believe this lost soul presents itself to say one final goodbye.


The colour white is synonymous with purity across almost all cultures. In this same vain white moths are often considered to symbolise purity, truth and cleanliness.

Superstitions individuals often combine this symbolism to consider white moths to represent a pure, cleansed soul. In this sense it is considered a blessing.


Ill Wishes

White moths are believed to pervay individuals with unrequited misfortune and ill wishes. The white moth is one of the most commonly referenced symbols when dream readers mention signs of bad luck and ill omens.


As they are also considered the souls of loved ones, it is considered very bad luck to kill a white moth, as it is with any moth that you encounter.


Do you have anything to add to our list of white moth symbolism? Comment below and we’ll see what we can find for you.

What Do Moths Symbolise in Dreams?

Moths in dreams are a common occurrence, and often cause a great deal of confusion for those who encounter this. It’s hard enough to remember dreams as it is, how is it possible that i remember something as insignificant as a moth.

Moths symbolism in dreams can be diverse, and to pinpoint the exact meaning context is key. We’ve written this guide to provide a definitive insight into moth symbolism in dreams, touching on a range of concepts and including relevant examples.

Moths in Dreams Could Mean Interference

The presence of a moth in your dream may represent something or someone that is getting in your way. This is usually common when you are annoyed with how someone is interfering in your life, and having too much of an influence on your ability to live.

The moth may also be symbolising an interference in your life that you are unable to control and have to tackle head on. For example, it is common to see a moth after losing a love one, and having to arrange for a funeral. You are forced to change your life to accomodate this, even though it is an unwelcome burden.


Dream interpreters often consider moths to represent a personal weakness when appearing in one’s dream.

This ties back to the self-destructive nature of the moth, who as we found when reviewing common concepts has a fixated attraction to lunar energy and light. For this reason, it is commonly thought that moths can represent a transient side to an individual’s demeanor.


Moths often represent self-doubt in dreams, highlighting an individual’s mistrust in someone or those close to them. This is often interpreted as the meaning when moths annoy us in our dreams, flying in our personal space or landing on our person.

As we learnt in moths spiritual meanings, the moth may be telling us to avoid overthinking and go with our intuition. Moths may resemble uncertainty but this should serve as a timely reminder to go with your instincts.

Moths in Milk?!

In the Chinese resource Zhuogong’s Dream Dictionary, there is an interpretation specifically about moths falling into a milk.

This is likely to occur after feeling low and depressed about a financial strain, usually through bankruptcy or an unsuccessful business venture.

The presence of a moth in milk should serve as encouragement for perseverance and to continue striving for your dreams. Cheer up and keep pursuing!

Have you had a moth in your dream? How did it appear, and what was the context? Please comment below and we’ll look into this for you.


Luna Moth Symbolism

Here we look in-depth at the common concepts of luna moth symbolism, seek and strive to explain how your fortunate encounter with this incredible species could affect you.


Common throughout the United States, Canada and Northern Mexico, the luna moth (Actias luna) is symbolic for a number of unique reasons. Luna moth symbolism generally relates to their substantial wingspan (up to 4.5 inches) and their life purpose once they emerge from their cocoons.


Luna Moth Symbolism and Love

It’s rather difficult to fathom how moths can possibly represent love given they are usually more considered to have negative meaning (see our complete list of moth symbolism concepts). This is where luna moths are different.

A luna moth emerges from its cocoon with not long for this earth. The average lifespan is a week, during which time they have no means to eat (no mouths). Their week (and life) goal is simple: to reproduce. To make love, the strongest of human emotions.

Many observers believe this to be a reminder of the importance of ceasing the day. Live and love to the fullest and enjoy every experience that gets thrown your way. That’s as the luna moth does.



Luna moths are a beautiful member of the animal kingdom, with the unique patterns across their wings marvelled by enthusiasts worldwide.

Encounters with luna moths are rare, so any time they bless us with their presence is not only a thrill, but a time for reflection.

With such a short livespan, many believe the luna moth appears to individuals to remind them to remove themselves from life’s petty problems. Your lifetime is only short – forget about what is stressing and concerning you and focus on being loving to others.


A Symbol of Protection and Success

The striking patterns of the luna moth are directly related to its symbolism. These patterns across the wingspan provide protection to luna moths against common predators, including owls and bats. This protection against a formidable foe serves as an opportunistic time to challenge anything you’re struggling to overcome.

As sightings are rare, the protection symbolism is seen as being sporadic. This is something we should aim to capitalise on, with the sighting of the enigmatic moth believed to bring success against foes.


Do you have any further experiences on luna moth encounters? What did they mean? Comment below to let us know!

What is the Symbolic Meaning of Moths?

Have you ever had a moth act a little bit unusual around you? Perhaps they are drawn to you, or constantly appear when your mood changes? What is the symbolic meaning?


Moth symbolism relates to various spiritual meanings that experts believe are relevant when you encounter moths repeatedly (e.g 3-4 times in a week) or when they are particularly friendly around you. We’ll tackle the various explanations of moth symbolism, and what messages they are trying to convey.


Moths mean intuition

As we found in what moths commonly symbolise, their behaviors have proved difficult for scientists to explain in reason. As a result, moths have a close symbolic connection with intuition.


If you’re constantly having encounters with moths, you may need to sit back and review a life decision from a new perspective. Are you thinking too much about the destinations before undertaking the journey? The constant presence of moths should lead you to think with gut other than second-guessing yourself. Taking emotional attachment out of decisions and be neutral often assists here too.


Moths in Dreams

A constant message or symbol in your dreams could mean that you are receiving guidance from your guide in the spiritual domain. There can be several meanings when it comes to seeing moths in dreams, with this largely depending on the context of the situation, the type of moth and your interaction with it.


To make sense of these dreams we recommend having a read of our in-depth guide to moths in dreams.


Don’t be Materialistic

Many concepts of moth symbolism have grown out of their nocturnal behavior and attraction to the light. Cultures have often connected this back to the idea that a moth’s focus on light relate to effectiveness, humility and efficiency. They cite that a moth encounter may be telling us to shy away from confrontation and keep focused on the end goal, or the bigger picture.


This can also be tied back to abstaining from obsessing over material goods. There’s no need to be materialistic for a moth, they have one focus and this isn’t hindered by possessions. All you need is a light to guide you!


Moths bring you security and reaffirm the importance of trusting your intuition, regardless of what others think.

Mood Swings and Moths

The energy of the moon affects people in differing ways. If you constantly find yourself having changes in mood that happen almost sporadically, you share something in common with moths: you’re sensitive to lunar energy!


Does your body and emotions react to the phases of the moon? This is commonly experienced in the presence of a full moon, which can often cause a depressed mood that is difficult to rationalise.


Moths fall into the same boat, with their sensitivity and attraction to the moon being their sole purpose in life. This plays back into intuition – the sign of a moth should force you to stop and think from a more instinctual perspective.




Moths are incredibly sensitive creatures. They are known for having incredibly acute hearing, with their wings allowing them to hear higher frequencies and even sense vibrations surrounding them.


This is symbolic with two main spiritual meanings with humans: the unspoken and sensitivity. It’s a sign that we should be considering not only what is being spoken but that which is unspoken, and what underlying messages may be present in our conversations and relationships. Body language is a key sign here, so it is recommended to closely observe how those around us are acting.


Are you sensitive to others, or perhaps present a severe lack of sensitivity? This also comes back to rethinking a situation through intuition. As you can see, the spiritual meanings of moths are intertwined and follow very similar concepts.


Spiritual Warning


Moths and their connection to blind faith have been observed in previous posts, and the presence of moth should serve as a warning to be vigilant. Don’t fall into a decision without considering things from a range of perspectives, and use intuition when things get complicated.


Moths reminds us to always prepare yourself for any situation, and keep on your toes.




The spiritual meaning of moths varies between cultures, and last year’s swarms of giant moths in Malaysia had many citizens curious of what they symbolised.


The common consensus was that a moth inside your home was a sign that someone was visiting, touching back on old myths that moths represented departed loved ones. There are numerous recollections on this on the Experience Collective that fuel this spiritual meaning


Do you know of other moth symbolic meanings? Comment below and we’ll look into them!