Butterflies vs. Moths

Butterflies vs. Moths
From Caterpillar to Butterfly (Let’s Read and Find Out) by Deborah Heiligman
See for Yourself: Insects by Karen Bryant-Mole
Concepts to emphasize:
Although both larval stages are caterpillars, the moth caterpillar generally spins its cocoon while a butterfly caterpillar sheds its last larval skin to reveal the chrysalis.
Moths generally are active at night while butterflies fly during the day (there are exceptions to both).
Moth antennae appear feathery while the butterfly antennae are club shaped.
Butterflies are generally more colorful than moths.
Butterfly abdomens are generally thin while moth abdomens are fatter.
Butterflies and moths are wonderful pollinators.
Day 1 Activities:
Talk about what the child already knows about butterflies/moths.  Can they name any differences between the two?  Do they know that butterflies are insects?  Since they are insects, what do we already know about them (ie. number of legs, number of body parts)?
View pictures or specimens of several different moth and butterfly species (eg. Luna moth, Atlas moth, Monarch butterfly, Blue Morph butterfly).  What differences do you see between moths and butterflies?
Watch short video segment Caterpillars Build Cocoons.
Read through Mimicry and Camouflage
Day 2 Activities:
Read From Caterpillar to Butterfly.
Read pp. 20-22 in See for Yourself: Insects.
Watch short video segment A Monarch’s Life Cycle.
Talk about the lifecycle and the perils associated with each stage (ie. ants may eat the eggs, caterpillars may be eaten, butterflies may be eaten).
Day 3 Activities:
Pp. 14 and 26 in See for Yourself: Insects.
Talk about how butterflies/moths eat and smell (ie. use a proboscis to sip the nectar).
Emphasize difference between host and nectar plants (host plants are where they lay eggs and are the larval food source while nectar plants are the food source for the adult).
Talk about the role of butterflies and moths in pollination (second only to bees!).
Find out what the common local butterflies are and their plant preferences.
Day 4 Activities:
Talk about how we see and then talk about how a butterfly sees (simple vs. compound eyes).
Look through a kaleidoscope.
Look at a picture of a compound eye (http://www.pbase.com/image/75142315).
Talking point: Compound eyes are much better at detecting movement than our eyes are – why is this beneficial for insects?
Review what you have found to be the most interesting.
Day 5 (or every day) Activities:
Go outside and look for butterflies and caterpillars.
At night, turn on an outside light and check for moths.
Try to take pictures of your sightings and identify them!

One thought on “Butterflies vs. Moths

  1. I love your ideas and information! I’ve thought of putting together a unit study a time or two, but I’ve never taken the time to do it. Thanks so much for directing me to it. 🙂

    I signed up to follow your blog. I would love it if you will sign up to follow me back.

    Hope the rest of your week goes well!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *