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  • Sam Darling

On moths and butterflies

As we watched a moth banging against the bathroom window my youngest asked me to reflect on the difference between moths and butterflies two nights ago and I confessed that I had no idea.

Good ol’ internet tells me the difference is that butterflies rest with wings closed while moths rest with wings open. I admit that this is the last difference that would have come to my mind. I had focused on diurnal versus nocturnal behaviors and a moth’s tendency to fly based on the light of the stars. Moths apparently also make a “silky” cocoon while butterflies use a famously shiny chrysalis.

The kids always come up with the most delightful questions and I enjoy it when I get stumped. Like last year when the oldest asked me if butterflies pee. In fact, they do release a water when they’ve taken in too much moisture from nectar. Which I joked was a delicacy among faeries and used by witches in their love potions. “It’s terribly difficult to get a butterfly to pee. You have to have the patience of a witch.” Which has become a shorthand in our household. “I was so patient, Mom. I was like a witch waiting for a butterfly to pee.”

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