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Butterflies and Moths  

Butterflies are the dancers of the insect world. They flit, they flutter, and they have the most beautifully colored costumes! More than 12,000 species of butterflies and moths live on the Earth and scientists are finding new ones all the time.

Comparison Between Butterflies and Moths Image - Science for Kids All About Butterflies and Moths

A Comparison All About Butterflies and Moths

Like all insects, butterflies have three body parts – the head, the thorax and the abdomen. They also have six legs and two antennae. Butterflies and moths have soft, scaled wings. They neither sting nor bite, and they pollinate many flowers and crops. Who doesn’t love them?

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Main Body Parts of Butterflies and Moths Image

Main body parts of butterflies and moths.

Fun Facts about Butterflies and Moths for Kids

  • Butterflies and moths go through metamorphosis, which is the life cycle all insects go through. They start as eggs and hatch as caterpillars, or larvae. Then they enter a pupa, or cocoon. Later they emerge as butterflies and moths.
  • What’s the difference between butterflies and moths? Butterflies are usually more colorful and larger, though not always. Butterflies have rounded knobs or clubs at the ends of their antennas. Moths do not. Moths are often nocturnal. Butterflies appear during the day.
  • Most butterflies live a week or two as adults.
  • Some butterflies, such as monarchs, migrate thousands of miles during the winter months.
  • Monarch butterflies eat poisonous plants when they’re caterpillars. The adult butterflies are poisonous to birds and other animals.
Monarch Butterfly as a Caterpillar Image

Monarch butterflies eat poisonous plants when they’re caterpillars.

Butterfly and Moth Vocabulary

  1. Pollinate: spread pollen so fruit will grow
  2. Metamorphosis: change
  3. Emerge: come out
  4. Knob: bump
  5. Migrate: move temporarily
Monarch Butterfly Migration Image

Some butterflies, such as monarchs, migrate thousands of miles during the winter months.

Learn More All About Butterflies and Moths

Watch this video that will teach you exactly how to know the difference between butterflies and moths:

A video discussing the difference between butterflies and moths.

Butterfly and Moth Q&A

Question: Are butterflies in danger?

Answer: Over 20 species of butterflies in the U.S. are endangered. They are losing habitat. Pesticides and chemicals can kill them.

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Question: How big are butterflies and moths?

Answer: They can be as small as your fingernail or as large as your head.

 

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