Last Monday morning I entered my classroom at 7:30 am and checked the chrysalises, who all seemed to be in the exact position as I left them on Friday. By 8:15 am, however, when my students began entering the classroom, three butterflies had emerged in the largest of our four habitats. By the end of the day, we have seven butterflies. By the end of the week, we had fifteen. Some of my students were lucky enough to watch a butterfly emerge, as was I. For me the most interesting transformation was watching the wrinkled, soft small wings fill with liquid and grow to their full size. Here are answers to some questions asked by my students:
What is the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon? While both butterflies and moths go through a metamorphosis, they form different “coverings” during this process. A cocoon, made by moths and some other insects, is a protective coil of silk and sometimes leaves. Butterflies form a chrysalis, which is made of hardened skin.
What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?
Moths tend to have fatter and fuzzier bodies, usually are nocturnal, and often have feathery, fuzzy antennae, and tend to rest with their wings down.
- Butterflies tend to have straight antennae with rounded or clubbed tips; rest with their wings up above their bodies
Here is a nice web site that shows the difference between butterflies and moths.
Moth or Butterfly?
My favorite moth is the sphinx moth. My husband and I used to watch them fly around in the summer evenings, around 10 pm, in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are so big that at first we thought they were hummingbirds. You can see some of them here:
How can you tell if a butterfly is a male or a female? Females have larger abdomens than males and males have claspers (found on the last segment on a butterflies’ body that are used to clasp onto a female butterfly during mating)
How long will our butterflies live? About two weeks. This is their natural life cycle.