Skip to content

In honor of National Moth Week, let's take a look at a difference between moths and butterflies that confuses people.

Both moths and butterflies go through 4 stages during metamorphosis:  egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa and adult. The eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths aren't all that much different, but the pupa and adult stages do show distinct differences.

A moth larva that pupates above the ground often weaves a silk bag around itself called a "cocoon" before it pupates. Then it changes inside the bag (cocoon), forming a brown, stubby pupa.

cocoon-vs-chrysalis

The butterfly larva forms a pupa that may be colorful or uniquely shaped compared to the drab brown pupa of the moth. The butterfly pupa is therefore often called a chrysalis or chrysalid.

For more information, we discussed the moth life cycle in an earlier post.

These days there are plastic models to help children identify the stages (see disclosure about links to Amazon).

luna-moth-life-cycle-safari

Safari Ltd Life Cycle of a Luna Moth Science Kit See how the cocoon has been opened to show the luna moth pupa inside?

butterfly-life-cycle

Butterfly Life Cycle Stages Characters, Plastic - 4 Piece Set; no. ILP4760

These would be fun to accompany a trip to a butterfly garden or pavilion.

Have you ever found a cocoon?

_______________________________

Disclosure:

I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

 

This week all the caterpillars from the last two weeks have disappeared. But don't be sad, because now they are chrysalises.

The queen butterfly forms within this delicate green structure with gold beading. It looks a lot like the monarch butterfly chrysalis.

I am happy to report the queen butterfly from this chrysalis successfully emerged and flew away.

The orange dog caterpillar formed a chrysalis that would be well camouflaged on the bark of the tree.

This one is still transforming inside.

What about the tobacco hornworm? It has formed a pupa, but it is hard to show you because hornworms pupate in the soil.

Related Activity:  Investigate where butterflies and moths spend the winter.

Different butterflies and moths may spend the winter as eggs, larvae, chrysalises, cocoons or adults. See if you can find some of these.

Good news, the Mexican yellow caterpillar from last week’s Bug of the Week made it to adulthood. I was able to find the chrysalis, which was empty because the butterfly had emerged. The chrysalis is the pale yellow object on the side of the twig. Way to go Mexican yellow!

meican yellow chrsalis

This week I spotted evidence of another caterpillar on our grapefruit tree. When you see a leaf with ratty edges like this, it can only be a few insects. I was pretty sure I knew which one. Sure enough, when I tipped the leaf over I found it.

damaged leaf

Which of the pictures below is the insect I found? I’ll tell you next week what it is and how it is doing.

guess1guess2