What is metamorphosis? It’s the process of an animal changing from its immature juvenile form into its adult form by going through separate life stages. A variety of animals go through metamorphosis, but today we’re going to take a look at butterflies and moths. Read on to explore the differences between cocoons and chrysalises, experience the monarch life cycle, and more!
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The monarch butterfly life cycle!
Here’s something you don’t get to see very often—the life cycle of the monarch butterfly! Check out their incredible journey from egg to adult in our video here.
Guiding Question: What do monarch caterpillars eat? What’s unique about monarch colors? Why do you think they are that color?
Chrysalises vs. cocoons
Both butterflies and moths go through four basic life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. When they reach the pupa stage, they deal with it in different ways. Butterfly caterpillars become chrysalises. The pupa’s body hardens to help protect it from predators, but they don’t make any additional covering. Moth caterpillars, on the other hand, create a covering (the cocoon) out of silk that then covers the pupa for additional protection. Click here to see a picture of a chrysalis and here to see an atlas moth cocoon. Can you see the differences?
Make a butterfly life cycle necklace!
Want to put what you’ve learned to the test? Try your hand at making our butterfly life cycle necklace! You’ll just need some yarn, some pipe cleaners, a bead, and some pieces of dry pasta. Click here for instructions.
Guiding Question: What are the four stages butterflies go through? How can we tell what stage a butterfly is in by looking at it? Do moths go through the same stages? Why or why not?
Check out our virtual Butterfly Release!
Even though we’re currently closed to the public, we still have butterflies and moths that need to be released into the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven every single day. We filmed one of these releases so you can still see it and participate from home! Click here to check out the video.
Guiding Question: How does the Nature Museum receive their butterflies? Do they come as caterpillars, chrysalises, or adult butterflies? Why do you think that is?
Behind the scenes!
Have you ever wondered what goes on in our Butterfly Haven Lab? Our bug expert, Allen, made a video to showcase how he handles butterfly shipments at the Nature Museum! Check it out here.