Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get to Know the Moths

The best way to learn the moths is to hang out with them. Watch them. Sketch them or take photos. Find out where they dine and what they eat for dinner. That means picking up a field guide... so you know where to look and who you're looking for.

If you're looking for something more introductory than a field guide, a story to catch the imagination of a very young child and entice him to go moth-watching, there's no better guide than Crinkleroot. Jim Arnosky's "Crinkleroot" books are just plain fun, and you can usually find them at a library. In Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing Butterflies and Moths children will get to know a little anatomy, how they eat, and a bit about their life cycle.

Then (if you want to skip the butterfly pages) they can head into the woods at night to find some moths. Arnosky's illustrated five of the "giant" moths": Sphinx, Polyphemus, Luna, Cecropia, and Regal moths.

For slightly older children who want to know more about the moths they see, check out a copy of Eyewitness Explorers Butterflies and Moths by John Feltwell (Dorling Kindersley). This is an almost-pocket-sized book, easier to carry around than the bigger, more detailed DK moth & butterfly book. Also, it's got more hands-on activities: make a moth kite, go on an egg hunt, make a caterpillar observation cage. And it encourages children to make a butterfly/moth garden.

In addition to the usual lep (lepidoptera) info, this book shows how they fly, how moth eyes work at night, and gives close-up views of hairy legs, antennae, and long tongues. It encourages kids to take a closer look at the leps around them, and to carry a handlens and a sketchbook and colored pencils. It's almost like having a classroom in a book...

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