I think of butterflies as the sunny blonde cheerleaders of the bug world, and moths as their sort of punk-goth younger sisters. You know, given to hanging out in dark corners wearing too much eyeliner. Kinda awkward. Whacking themselves senseless against bright light bulbs? Just moth mosh pits.
There is a scene in the movie Angels and Insects (good book, bad movie) where the main dude, a naturalist with a special interest in bugs, tries to woo his insipid love interest by surrounding her in a cloud of beautiful butterflies. Naturally, she is charmed. Not content with this success, however, he brings her back to the greenhouse again that evening to duplicate the earlier event, but this time with moths. Girlfriend is horrified and freaks out. Has a total meltdown. And you know right away that that romance will never work.
They are so creepy and beautiful, I think. And their colors and patterns more interesting than that of butterflies—they're less eager to please. They are also destructive as hell, of course.
The summer I spent at Skowhegan, there was an artist whose studio porch light was particularly attractive to moths. They would go crashing into it, then thud to the ground, stunned. He kept a hotplate full of melted beeswax by his studio door, and, upon hearing a telltale thud, would put down his paint brush, nip outside and grab the still stunned moth gently by the wings. He'd then quickly dip the moth's body into the hot wax, killing it and preserving it all in one gesture. By the end of the summer, he had a shelf of these moth "trophies"—all lined up, one after the other. They were beautiful. But it was a terrible thing to do.
Thank heavens for Pinterest. So much more humane.