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Have you ever been outside and wondered what the flying insect that was hanging out on your daffodils or was seen fluttering around your rose bushes? Is it a butterfly or a moth or something else entirely? Well, let’s see if we can eliminate the confusion.

Butterfly Vs. Moth

Both butterflies and moths eat nectar from flowers, have the same life cycle, and can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. While both species have four wings, six legs, and two antennae, that is where the similarities end.

  • Butterflies are brightly colored and moths are duller in color.

  • Moths have feathery antennae and butterflies’ antennae are stalks with a little, round bulb on the end.

  • Butterflies are seen more often during the day and moths more frequently are found out at night (you can see these guys around your outdoor lights in the spring and summer evenings). (kids.britannica)

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a butterfly or moth is called metamorphosis

A female butterfly or moth lays eggs on the leaf of a plant or shrub. Then, when the egg hatches, a caterpillar emerges and eats the plant it is on (these guys are extreme munchers). As caterpillars grow, their skin splits and they shed it off up to 5 times. Then, they enter the next phase as pupa.

During the pupa phase (which is the last time the caterpillar sheds), it forms a hard shell called a chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, a whole lot of growing goes on (legs, wings, antennae…).

After 14 days, the chrysalis splits open and a slightly wet and crinkled butterfly or moth emerges. It rests for a couple of moments and then it flies off in search of flowers. (sdzwildlife)

Other cool butterfly facts:

  • Butterflies can fly at the speed of 5-7 miles per hour.

  • Sometimes, you can find large groups of butterflies in a muddy area or near a mud puddle. They are sucking up the nutrients in the soil.

  • Butterflies can see colors red, green, and yellow, and they even see in colors that we can’t!

  • They taste with their feet and eat with a suction tube-like mouth. (sdzwildlife)

Did you know that Maryland has a state butterfly? Our state insect is the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly. (statesymbolsusa)

Coffee Filter Butterfly Craft

Supplies:

  • White Coffee Filter (size will depend on how big you want your butterfly to be)

  • Pipe Cleaner (1)

  • Colored Markers

Step 1: Color your coffee filter using the markers. Be as creative and flashy as you want! Most butterflies are fairly colorful and flashy!

Step 2: Hold the coffee filter in your hand and squish it towards the center.

Step 3: Take the pipe cleaner and wrap it around the center of your butterfly. Make sure to leave enough antenna length to curl or make loops at the ends.

Check Out These Books in Our Collection

Caterpillar to Butterfly by Lisa M. Herrington

Explores the life cycle of butterflies, using photographs and step-by-step text to follow a monarch butterfly’s growth process from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to mature insect.

Butterfly by John Woodward

Describes the physical characteristics, habitat, feeding, and life cycle of butterflies.

Moths by Mari Schuh

This photo-illustrated book for early readers tells about the physical features of moths and briefly describes their life cycle.