During National Moth Week we will discover the difference and see if you can find some moths around your house.
Did you know that they are more moths than butterflies in the United States? We often only think of a few different types, but there are hundreds of different moths and butterflies that fly in our skies.
Moths and butterflies are insects. Within the group of insects, they belong to a scientific group of animals called Lepidoptera.
What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly? The Library of Congress Science References can help. Look at the pictures on the Children's Butterfly Site to help you see the difference too.
I bet you have a favorite butterfly. Look to see what other sorts of Moths and Butterflies you can find in Somerset County (you can search for any NJ county if you want). Write a comment to tell me which one you like most.
Science Buddies please help guide the activity, set up the experiment, and help practice safe science.
Things to Get
- a fluorescent light, blacklight, or other light that you can bring and set outside for an hour or two. An outdoor light may work for this if it is not too bright.
- a white sheet or piece of material
- a way to hang the sheet near the light.
- a ruler
Things to Do and Notice
- Before it gets dark, hang the sheet on a wall, clothesline, between two trees, or on any other surface if can be sturdy.
- Put the light near the ground and have it shine on the sheet.
- Turn the light on as the sun is starting to set. Light attracts moths and other insects. They will fly around the light and often land on the sheet.
Things to Record (Write and Draw)
Please remember to make a Mission Report to keep track of your experiments. Scientists keep a written and drawn record of what they do. Write down and draw what you did, what happened, and what you discovered.
- Draw or take pictures of some of the moths and insects that you found. If you use a flash, noths may be scared away temporarily, but they will probably come back.
- Count how many different types you saw or how many of the same type you saw.
- Use your ruler to measure some of the things you see.
- Were they different colors? What colors did you see on the insects you saw?
- I would recommend that you leave the sheet out overnight so that all the insects can find their way home. You can clean off the sheet the next day and maybe use it again for future moth hunts.
Websites with More Information
- If you find a caterpillar you can help to raise it. (Check this website - Butterfly and Moth Rearing - for information on how to do this.) You need to keep track of what kind of plant it was on. This is called the host plant. Caterpillars tend to use only one type of host plant. You will need to keep offering it this type of plant until it metamorphosizes into a chrysalis (butterflies) or cocoon (moths).
- Butterflies and Moths of North America
- BioKids - Butterflies and Moths