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.


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).


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 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?



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