Moth Activities

You may think of a moth as just another annoying bug, but taking a closer look at moths can be very interesting, and yield wonder activities for kids. A moth is related to the butterfly, and some are just as pretty. Unlike butterflies, however, most moths are nocturnal -- that means they're most active at night (a fact you may already know if you've ever looked up a street light on a summer night).

Some moths are considered pests because their larvae eat clothing or blankets made of wool. Other moths can cause damage to trees. Some, though, are common moths -- the kind that you find flying around your porch light.


All moths start out as caterpillars. As unusual as it seems to us, the caterpillar of a particular moth is used as a source of food in Africa.

Moth behavior can be fascinating. Follow the links to learn more.

Moth Navigation

Find out why moths are attracted to street lights or candle flames.

Moth Watching

Learn more about this interesting creature by watching up close and personal.

Why do moths fly toward the light? It's due to their navigation system. Keep reading to learn all about it.

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Moth Navigation for Kids

Have you ever wondered about moth navigation? Why do moths fly toward candle flames and lamps? Maybe their moth navigation system doesn't work very well. No, that's not it -- they're confused by the light. Keep reading to better understand why moths are attracted to flames and artificial light -- and for interesting moth navigation activities for kids.

What You'll Need:

Street (with street lamp)


On a night when the moon is full, stand outside on the sidewalk where you can see the moon. Turn your head so that you see the moon over one shoulder. Now, walk down the sidewalk and watch the moon over your shoulder. Notice that you don't have to move your head as you walk -- the moon seems to follow you. (It doesn't really, of course.)

Now find a lit street lamp. Look over one shoulder at it. Walk and watch the lamp over the same shoulder. Do you feel like you're walking in circles? To keep the lamp over the same shoulder, you have to walk around it.

Moths use the moon to navigate. The moon doesn't move out of position if the moth flies in a straight line. But street lamps are confusing. If the moth flies in a straight line, it thinks the lamp's position has changed. As the moth continues, the lamp "moves" again. The moth flies in circles, moving closer and closer until it is trapped.

If you'd like to try moth watching with a close-up view, keep reading -- the next page has some great ideas.

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Moth Watching for Kids

Moth watching may not be something you'd immediately think of as a fun activity, but you might be surprised by these fascinating night visitors -- and eager to try these moth-watching activities for kids.

The first thing you need to know is that moths navigate by moonlight and can be attracted by bright lights. They also are attracted to plants with bright white flowers and heavy fragrances. (Moths help to pollinate the plants.)


Here are a couple fun and interesting ways that you can draw moths to your house at night.

What You'll Need:

White sheet or shower curtain

Desk lamp

Faded tennis ball


Fruit juice

Brown sugar

White Wall: Get an old white bed sheet or shower curtain and fasten it to an outside wall of your house near an outdoor electrical outlet. Plug in a desk lamp, and aim the light beam at the white sheet. Soon, you'll see moths congregate on the sheet. Watch for the large, beautiful Luna moth, which as an adult has no mouth and cannot feed.

Moth Food: Tie string around a faded tennis ball, leaving a long piece of string for hanging. Dissolve as much brown sugar as you can in a half-cup of fruit juice and soak the tennis ball in the mix. Hang the ball in a sheltered place. Moths will be attracted by the sweet-smelling fruit juice.

Try these ideas, and enjoy learning about moths.

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