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As mentioned previously, moths are often more difficult to photograph than butterflies. They hide during the day, and they aren't big and showy. Also -- unlike many butterflies -- moth life cycles aren't always well known, so it may be harder to know where to look for them.

To remedy this, I've been posting some moth life cycles. For example, this week we have a more complete genista moth life cycle.

First we found the orange, black and white larval stage on Texas mountain laurel bushes.

By the way, these are sometimes call sophora worms because their host plant's scientific name is Sophora secundiflora.

Those pupated in a loose silken cocoon.

We waited as the caterpillar changed into a moth.

Ta da! The genista broom moth (Uresiphita reversalis) has emerged.

It belongs to the family Crambidae, the grass moths. Can you see why another common name for the group is snout moth?  Perhaps it will be easier to see from a side view:

The mouthparts form a point at the front of the head that resembles a snout.

Coincidentally, I found another caterpillar from the family Crambidae this week.

This is a mint moth caterpillar in the genus Pyrausta.

Hopefully, we'll find out what the snout looks like for this moth in a few weeks.

In case you are gearing up for National Pollinator Week June 22-28, 2020, remember that moths are pollinators, too.


Have you spotted any moths or caterpillars this week?

The 9th annual National Moth Week is coming up July 18-26, 2020, so let's take a peek at the abundance of moths in our yard right now.

First there were the genista caterpillars (previous post).

This genista caterpillar was on a neighbor's Texas mountain laurel so I gave it a home.

It made a loose silk cocoon on the cloth at the top of the container and pupated. The orange-brown crescent shape looks like a typical moth pupa.

Perhaps we'll have a moth to show in the next few weeks.

We found at least two separate species of caterpillar on our desert fern tree. The green looper was the larger of the two.

It pupated in the bottom of its container.  Pupae from the family Geometridae often show some emerald green coloration in the thorax region.

Here's the adult. I'm not entirely sure what the species is, but it is common right now.

This is probably another of the same species I found sitting on a wall a few days later.

Moths can be hard to photograph, first of all because they hide in the shadows during the day and secondly because they fly away when someone approaches them.

This powdery gray moth was unusual because it was feeding on a milkweed flower during the day.

Notice the curious fold in the forewing?

You can see the curved fold even in the open wings.

The examples above are just the tip of the moth iceberg.

Let's keep an eye out for moths over the coming weeks and try to learn more about them. For activity suggestions and information, visit the National Moth Week website.

Looking for children's books about moths? Then check out Jerry Pallotta's gorgeous new Not a Butterfly Alphabet Book: It's About Time Moths Had Their Own Book!, illustrated by Shennen Bersani,

plus others on our growing list of children's books about moths and butterflies at Science Books for Kids.

Melissodes trinodus bee

May 20 is World Bee Day, but we can celebrate bees any day with hands-on STEAM activities.

1. Visit the World Bee Day website for detailed information about the importance of bees (and other pollinators). Look for why the organizers chose May 20 for the date. The right sidebar contains many links to other informative websites, including the beautifully designed and engaging Buzzing with Life.

2. Tohono Chul Gardens has put together an amazing collection of lessons about bees and other pollinators. Created to cover a week's worth of activities, it includes instructions for gardening and art. If nothing else, download the bee homes activity (PDF).

3. To get a glimpse of the diversity of bees (and some other insects), check out the photographs at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Flickr page. Seriously. Click on the photographs to learn the scientific names of the bees and more about them. For example, our little long-horned bee in the photograph above is a Melissodes trinodus.

4. Make a honey bee model (previous Growing with Science post).

5. See our collection of honey bee science activities as well as all our posts in the bee category.

6. Visit our growing list of children's books about bees at Science Books for Kids.