Insect Metamorphosis
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  Insect Metamorphosis


Butterfly Metamorphosis After reading a story summary about insect metamorphosis, students compare and contrast a butterfly and a moth. Students explore a Web site that illustrates and discusses the life cycles of the butterfly and moth as well as addressing many other aspects of insect life.


Describe the life cycle of a butterfly and moth. Observe a butterfly and a moth. Compare and contrast the characteristics of butterflies and moths.



  1. Share the book summary with students and invite them to comment on metamorphosis. You might ask what the stages of metamorphosis are. Do you think that the life cycle of a butterfly and moth are different or the same?

  2. Take students online to visit the University of Kentucky's Entomology for Kid's “Insects All Year” feature, at This Web site was created to explore and educate people about butterflies and other insects, and has a different insect-related topic for each month of the year. Click on May, for “How to Make a Butterfly Garden”.

  3. Review the stages of metamorphosis with students online. Invite groups of students to print out a stage. Then have students select a stage to describe. Invite some students to print out the adult moth and others the adult butterfly as the last stage.

  4. Distribute the Insect Metamorphosis Activity worksheet. Review the directions with students. Then have students complete the activities. When students compare and contrast the butterfly and the moth, they might discover some of the following differences:
• active during the day
• drink nectar
• wiry antennae
• wings folded when resting
• generally more colorful
(because of daytime activity)
• pupa stage called chrysalis
• active during the night
• some moths don't eat
• fuzzy antennae
• wings open when resting
• generally less colorful
(because of nighttime activity)
• pupa stage called cocoon

Home Connection

Families can explore the life cycle of the painted lady butterfly at the Virginia Tech Entomology Web site feature, “Insects in Motion.” Go to and click on “Butterflies” under “Life Stage Development.” Each family member can draw a stage of the butterfly's development, describe it, and then make up riddles about each stage.


Have small groups of students visit the Butterfly Site Photo Gallery at the USGS Children's Butterfly Web site. Students can click on to locate and describe butterflies in their area. Students can hold a class contest to see who can locate the most butterflies in their area.

Product Links

Take your students on an Internet Field Trip to learn more about the changes that plants and animals experience. Visit Houghton Mifflin Science DiscoveryWorks to learn more about life cycles and the roles of living things.

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