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The Q? Blog

Butterflies and Moths, Oh My!

by Anna -- Aug 13, 2014
Q?Crew volunteer Anna

Hello, my name is Anna and I'm part of the Q?Crew in Q?rius. My favorite part of Q?rius is the Collection Zone, because there's so much to explore and it...

Colorful butterflies, including the giant blue morpho (bottom right), are on display in Case A in the Q?rius Loft. Smithsonian photo.
Colorful butterflies, including the giant blue morpho (bottom right), are on display in Case A in the Q?rius Loft. Smithsonian photo.

One of the topics that fascinates visitors of all ages in the Margaret A. Cargill Collections Zone is butterflies. The butterflies are some of the most-viewed objects in Q?rius. Visitors love getting a close-up look at the pretty creatures, pointing out the diversity of colors, and even zooming in on the details using the microscopes.

There are at least three places where butterflies and moths can be found in Q?rius. First, there is the great view of the collections wall from the Loft. You can use the computer station upstairs to explore the species, found in Cases A and B of the Entomology section, and learn more about different types. The brightest butterfly found here is the giant blue morpho, which (as the name implies) is both great in size and of a very bright blue hue.

The second place butterflies can be found is in drawer number 12 of the Collections Zone, amongst many other types of insects. One of the standouts here is the Atlas moth, the largest moth in the world.

The last butterfly location is a bit hidden away from the rest of the insects. On the opposite side of the wall is cabinet number 21, home to two more trays of larger butterflies and moths. Included in here are butterflies with "owl eye" designs on their wings and the monarch with its many impersonators. The second drawer up from the bottom of the cabinet also contains our spider collection, including (yikes!) a tarantula.

And of course, we have lots of special events. Occasionally, the Barbara and Craig Barrett Lab has an educational butterfly DNA activity open to visitors, where they can match butterfly genes to their owners. Recently, as a part of National Moth Week, visitors could meet a scientist in the Lab and interact with live moths and caterpillars. Moth expert Dr. David Adamski shared his knowledge about the Lepidoptera order and let visitors gently handle the insects.

Just in Q?rius alone, visitors can find an abundance of moths and butterflies and learn more about this diverse group of insects, but the Museum as a whole has even more to offer. If you're a fan of butterflies, make sure to check out Q?rius, and then head upstairs to the second floor to Insects, where you can go inside our Butterfly Pavilion, home to tons of live butterflies.