I found this odd flying insect hanging out on our Zucchini plant. I couldn't make out if it was a moth or a butterfly, friend or foe. Looks like a friendly insect, anybody know what it is and how it can help out or hurt the garden?

Just to help folks land on this question I'll make a verbal description of the lil guy: small flying insect, possibly a moth or some kind of butterfly, approximately 1/2-3/4 in long, 4 winged with two wings horizontal and two at an angle upright like a v-tail of a jet, brown with yellow splotches and spots, short antennae, fuzzyish head with large fly like dark brown eyes. flying insect (moth or butterfly?) on Zucchini plant

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    Before to be in such state, it was a caterpillar, so a potential eater of your vegetables. But as usual, there is not good or bad insects: few (of same species) are usually good, many: there is a problem (but maybe they are the good guys that are destroying the bad guys, like many ladybugs with fleas). [few bad guys help to keep "cops" in your garden] Oct 23, 2017 at 6:25
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    Well it looks like a Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) but what part of the world you're in is important - you may not have that partcular butterfly there.
    – Bamboo
    Oct 23, 2017 at 10:44
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    One distinct difference between moths and butterflies involve their wings, namely how they are folded whilst stationary. Where butterflies rest with this wings folded up, their bold colours hidden, moths keep theirs out flat, the mottled, bark-like patterning of such aiding in camouflage. Oct 24, 2017 at 7:11

2 Answers 2


I think the comment by Bamboo in October, 2017 had the correct answer: a "skipper" type butterfly. Many of those skippers look a lot alike. It could be Bamboo's "large skipper", or the fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) shown in this photo from Wikipedia

fiery skipper butterfly,

or some other skipper. As Bamboo said, it depends where in the world you are.

As Mr. Catenazzi noted, it would be the caterpillars preceding your butterfly that might eat your plants, but a from a quick internet search, it seems that most of the skipper caterpillars whose adults look like your picture prefer to eat grasses (especially the notorious Bermuda and St. Augustine). I'm glad to find out they don't eat vegetables, because these charming little butterflies are some of my favorite visitors to the garden.


it looks like an underwing moth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catocala

but basically all moths and butterflies eat plant material as a larvae, it just matters if that is plant material for a plant that you care about or not... many moths don't feed as adults... I cant tell if it has a mouth or a proboscis or anything... some do, some dont... wikipedia doesn't mention specifically for that genus... if it is in that genus it probably lives on tree leaves, which are usually plentiful and wouldn't detriment the plant much, unless there was a heavy infestation.

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