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by Kendra Norrell, Assistant Butterfly Curator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

Monarch caterpillar becoming a chrysalis.  

Monarch caterpillar becoming a chrysalis.

  Monarch butterfly chrysalis

Monarch butterfly chrysalis

In case you didn’t know, this week is National Moth Week.  Here at the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, we are known for having a variety of butterflies, but periodically we will get some moths to liven up the exhibit with their nocturnal glory.  Having the moths in the exhibit, sometimes, brings up the question: What makes a moth different than a butterfly?  There are the easily known observations: moths are more active at night and typically are a duller color than butterflies. But there are other things that create a difference as well.

One of the main differences between moths and butterflies is how they reach their adult stage. Both go through a metamorphosis from the pupae stage, but what they’re in differs. Butterfly caterpillars become a chrysalis as their pupae stage. Moths, on the other hand, make a cocoon. What’s the difference, you might ask. Well, moth caterpillars spin their cocoons out of silk thread that comes from within. While a caterpillar’s chrysalis is located under the last layer of skin which they shed and a chrysalis comes out.

Cecropia caterpillar making its cocoon.

Cecropia caterpillar making its cocoon.

Cecropia caterpillar inside its cocoon.

Cecropia caterpillar inside its cocoon.

In the exhibit, we have both butterfly (Monarch butterfly) and moth (Luna moth) caterpillars.  Hopefully, while they are in the exhibit, we will be able to see the different transformations to the pupae stage!

For more photos of the complete transformation, be sure to visit the All of Nature blog.

Image sources:

http://allofnature.blogspot.com/2013/06/monarch-caterpillar-changes-to-chrysalis.html  

http://allofnature.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

 

 

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