What goes through your mind when you see a moth sitting on a wall?

First, I always wonder if I know what kind it is.

In this case, I do. It is a Royal Poinciana moth, Melipotis acontioides. We had one earlier on our palo verde tree, although its wing colors were darker.

The next thing I wonder is what the moth is doing. Generally moths hide during the day and fly at night. To us, their wing colors and patterns resemble tree bark, so to be successfully camouflaged they should rest on a tree.

We do have suitable trees in our yard. Did this one choose the light-colored wall of our stucco house because it mistook the texture for a tree? How did the wall appear to the moth? What did it see?

Although I don’t know the answer, I did find an amazing picture book that attempts to show us how other animals might perceive their surroundings, Eye Spy: Wild Ways Animals See the World by Guillaume Duprat.

This over-sized book is stuffed full of information about vision. With fold-out pages and flaps to lift, it is fun and interactive for kids (although a nightmare for librarians).

The premise is straightforward. The author discusses what is known about human vision and compares it with other animals. How he presents the material, however, is what makes it stand out. He has developed a stylized scene full of colors and shapes. He shows how we see the scene and then on the following pages unveils our best idea of how dogs, cats, mice, owls, and even earthworms might see it. There is a detailed illustration of each animal that emphasizes their eyes, and a flap to lift and reveal what they see (the earthworm is the best).

Back to what our moth sees, Duprat shows the scene as a honey bee (see Bee Eye Website for a preview) and fly might perceive it, but on the last page of the book he says that we don’t know what a butterfly (and presumably a moth) might see. It is one of the many unanswered questions in science. For the time being, we can only imagine it.

Eye Spy is an engaging and information look at vision. You just might want to take a peek at it.

Age Range: 6 – 12 years
Publisher: What on Earth Books (October 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1999802853
ISBN-13: 978-1999802851

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