A couple of weeks ago, my husband called me down to the basement to see a cecropia moth that had just emerged from its cocoon. It could compete with any of the much admired butterflies out there for drama and beauty, not to mention size – its wingspan was 5 to 6 inches! It is in fact the largest moth in North America.
It was no coincidence that the cecropia cocoon was in our basement. My husband had brought the worm home and we had watched it eat for awhile and make its cocoon and then we waited all winter and spring to see the moth come out. When nothing happened in May or early June, we were sure it was one of the many moths that didn’t survive the winter and put the cocoon in our basement as a curiosity. Obviously, we were pleasantly surprised to find we were mistaken. We took him or her outside then watched the moth warm up its wings, and fly away like it had been doing it for years. We were very fortunate to see this lovely creature in person, since they live such a short life, move mostly at night, and don’t eat.
While this wasn’t exactly a life changing experience, I have always thought that observing nature teaches us things that we really can’t learn anywhere else. Through observing this metamorphosis, I learned more about the cycle of life that is happening all around me and was reminded of the fleeting nature of both beauty and life. I was reminded about the complex and intricate patterns of life found even in the darkest corners of the natural world, which restored a proper sense of awe and respect for the world around me. Finally, I was reminded of the importance of patience and of letting go.
All of this is to say that it is important to occasionally shake off the shackles of the modern world, step into the natural world, and take a look around. The more we do, and the more our children do, the more we will understand it and absorb the lessons it has to offer.
Here are some great resources from Discovery on metamorphosis. You will have to log in to see them. If you have any issues with your login, be sure to let me or another education consultant know!
Insect Life Cycles: Metamorphosis. Students learn about simple metamorphosis, complete metamorphosis, and the entire insect life cycle. This video includes live close-up footage of a painted lady butterfly, waxworm moth, silkworm, milkweed bug, and more. Detailed animations give students a unique perspective of the world’s largest animal group.
Insect Metamorphosis. Some organisms undergo a process during which they experience dramatic changes in form as they grow. This process is called metamorphosis, and nowhere is it more dramatic than in the world of insects. This video will introduce students to the two major types of insect metamorphosis: Incomplete and complete. Plenty of examples are given for both types. The praying mantis goes through the three stages of incomplete metamorphosis: Egg, nymph, and adult. The monarch butterfly goes through the four stages of complete metamorphosis: Egg, larva, pupa, and adult
The lives of Butterflies and Moths. Young caterpillars go through a lot to become an adult butterfly. Like many insects, butterflies and moths have a four stage life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Butterflies and moths belong to a group of insects called lepidopteran.
The lives of Butterflies. This video describes the characteristics of insects and documents the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.