Fun Moon Facts for Kids — Interesting Facts about the Earth — s Moon

Apollo butterfly: interesting facts about the life of the largest representative of the genus Parnassius

Check out our amazing space and astronomy facts for kids. Learn about different space objects and enjoy a range of cool trivia.

Moon Facts for Kids

Check out these fun Moon facts for kids. Learn how big the Moon is, who the first person to walk on it was, why we only see one side of it and much more. Read on and enjoy the wide range of interesting facts about the Earth’s Moon.

The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite. A natural satellite is a space body that orbits a planet, a planet like object or an asteroid.

It is the fifth largest moon in the Solar System. Learn more about the other moons in the Solar System.

The average distance from the Moon to the Earth is 384403 kilometres (238857 miles).

The Moon orbits the Earth every 27.3 days.

Mons Huygens is the tallest mountain on the Moon, it is 4700 metres tall, just over half the height of Mt Everest (8848m).

The Moon rotates on its axis in around the same length of time it takes to orbit the Earth. This means that from Earth we only ever see around 60% of its surface (50% at any one time).

The side that we can see from Earth is called the near side while the other side is called the far side (it is sometimes called the dark side despite the fact that it illuminated by the Sun just as much as the near side).

The effect of gravity is only about one fifth (17%) as strong on the surface of the Moon compared to the strength of gravity on the surface of the Earth.

The Soviet Union’s Luna program featured the first successful landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon in 1966.

The USA’s NASA Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was the first manned Moon landing.

The first person to set foot on the Moon was Neil Armstrong.

The far side of the Moon looks quite different due to its lack of maria (ancient pools of solidified lava).

The surface of the Moon features a huge number of impact craters from comets and asteroids that have collided with the surface over time. Because the Moon lacks an atmosphere or weather these craters remain well preserved.

Although research is continuing, most scientists agree that the Moon features small amounts of water.

The Moon is very hot during the day but very cold at night. The average surface temperature of the Moon is 107 degrees Celsius during the day and -153 degrees Celsius at night.

The Earth’s tides are largely caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon.

The phases of the Moon are: New Moon, Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Crescent, New Moon….

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon.

Swallowtail butterfly facts for kids

There are 26 genera and about 605 species:

  • Subfamily Baroniinae
    • Baronia
  • Subfamily Parnassiinae
    • Allancastria
    • Archon
    • Bhutanitis
    • Hypermnestra
    • Luehdorfia
    • Parnassius
    • Sericinus
  • Subfamily Papilioninae
    • Atrophaneura
    • Battus
    • Byasa
    • Chilasa
    • Cressida
    • Euryades
    • Eurytides
    • Graphium
    • Iphiclides
    • Lamproptera
    • Losaria
    • Meandrusa
    • Mimoides
    • Ornithoptera
    • Pachliopta
    • Papilio
    • Parides
    • Pharmacophagus
    • Protesilaus
    • Protographium
    • Teinopalpus
    • Trogonoptera
    • Troides
Swallowtail butterfly
Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Suborder: Ditrysia
Superfamily: Papilionoidea
Family: Papilionidae
Latreille, 1802
Type species
Papilio machaon
(Old World Swallowtail)
Subfamilies and genera
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Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies which form the family Papilionidae. There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of Australia (genus Ornithoptera).



As of 2005, 552 extant species have been identified which are distributed across the tropical and temperate regions. Various species inhabit altitudes ranging from sea level to high mountains, as in the case of most species of Parnassius. The majority of swallowtail species and the greatest diversity are found in the tropics and subtropical regions between 20°N and 20°S, particularly Southeast Asia, and between 20°N and 40°N in East Asia. Only 12 species are found in Europe and only one species, Papilio machaon is found in the British Isles. North America has 40 species, including several tropical species and Parnassius.

The northernmost swallowtail is the Siberian Apollo (Parnassius arcticus), found in the Arctic Circle in northeastern Yakutia, at altitudes of 1500 meters above sea level. In the Himalayas, various Apollo species such as Parnassius epaphus, have been found at altitudes of 6,000 meters above sea level.

The caterpillars of various swallowtail butterfly species feed on a wide range of different plants, most depending on only one of five families: Aristolochiaceae, Annonaceae, Lauraceae, Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) and Rutaceae. By eating some of these toxic plants, the caterpillars sequester aristolochic acid which renders both the caterpillars and the butterflies of some of these as toxic, thus protecting them from predators. Similarly, the Parnassius smintheus sequesters sarmentosin from its host plant Sedum lanceolatum for protection from predators. Swallowtail tribes Zerynthiini (Parnassiinae), Luehdorfiini (Parnassiinae) and Troidini (Papilioninae), almost exclusively use the family Aristolochiaceae as their host plants.

For example, the eastern black swallowtail’s main host plant in the wild is Queen Anne’s lace, but they also eat garden plants in the carrot family, including carrots, parsley, dill, and fennel.

Adult swallowtails sip nectar, but also mud and sometimes manure.

Life cycle

The detailed descriptions of morphological characteristics of the Papilionidae, as quoted in Bingham (1905) are as follows:

Egg. «Dome-shaped, smooth or obscurely facetted, not as high as wide, somewhat leathery, opaque.» (Doherty.)

Larva. Stout, smooth or with a series of fleshy tubercles on the dorsum: sometimes with a raised fleshy protuberance (the so-called hood or crest) on the fourth segment. The second segment has a transverse opening, out of which the larva protrudes at will and an erect, forked, glandular fleshy organ that emits a strong, penetrating, and somewhat unpleasant odor.

Pupa. Variable in form but most often curved backwards. It is angulate, with the head truncate or rounded and the back of abdomen is smooth or tuberculate. It is attached by the tail, normally in a perpendicular position, and further secured by a silken girth round the middle. In Parnassius, the pupa is placed in a loose silken web between leaves.

Imago. Wings extraordinarily variable in shape. Hindwing very frequently has a tail, which may be slender, or broad and spatulate, but is always an extension of the termen at vein 4. In one genus, Armandia, the termen of the hindwing is prolonged into tails at the apices of veins 2 and 3 as well as at vein 4. Forewing (except in the aberrant genera Parnassius and Hypermnestra) with all 12 veins present and in addition a short internal vein, vein 1 a, that invariably terminates on the dorsal margin.

Stages of development of a papilionid, the giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

6 Fascinating Facts About Tent Caterpillars

Interesting Behaviors and Traits of Tent Moth Larvae

Johann Schumacher / Getty Images

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Homeowners worried about their prized cherry trees may not be happy to see silk tents appear in the branches each spring. In large numbers, tent caterpillars can devour nearly every leaf on a tree. But take a few moments to observe the tent caterpillars in action, and you’ll soon discover they are remarkably sophisticated insects. These 10 fascinating facts about tent caterpillars may change your opinion of these common pests.

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Tent caterpillars are gregarious

It’s no coincidence that dozens of tent caterpillars camp out together in a communal silk tent. Tent caterpillars are highly social beings! Within the genus Malacosoma, there are 26 known species of tent caterpillars, and all of them exhibit social behaviors. The female moth deposits 150-250 eggs in a single mass, often on the south side of a cherry tree branch. For the 6-8 weeks they are caterpillars, these siblings will live and feed and grow together.

The tent caterpillars’ tent serves as their home base

Not all Malacosoma caterpillars build large, permanent tents, but those that do use their family tent as a base of operations throughout the larval life stage. Eastern tent caterpillars begin their lives by choosing a location to build their home. The tiny caterpillars look for a tree crotch that receives morning sun, and then each spins silk to contribute to their tent’s construction. Early instar caterpillars only require a small tent, but as they grow, they expand their tent to accommodate their larger size. Before each foraging trip, the caterpillars mend and maintain their home. Between meals, the tent serves as a resting place, where the caterpillars are afforded some protection from predators.

Tent caterpillars use pheromones to mark trails on their host tree

Many insects use chemical markers to communicate. Eastern tent caterpillars leave pheromone trails to signal their siblings, and they do so in a fairly sophisticated way. They use different pheromones to mark exploratory trails and recruitment trails. When a wandering caterpillar encounters an exploratory pheromone trail, it knows another caterpillar is already surveying that branch for food and turns in another direction. If a caterpillar locates a branch flush with leaves, it signals to others to join the meal using its recruitment pheromone. If you spend enough time observing eastern tent caterpillars, you’ll notice a caterpillar stops and «sniffs» when it comes to the crotch of a tree branch, trying to determine which way to go.

Tent caterpillars keep each other warm

Eastern tent caterpillars are active in the ​spring, when warm weather hasn’t quite taken hold. Temperatures may fluctuate, and nights can be downright cold. Eastern tent caterpillars practice behavioral thermoregulation, taking active steps together to control their body temperature. If they need to warm up, eastern tent caterpillars may bask in the sun on the outside of their tent. Usually, they’ll huddle together in tight clusters, to minimize the impact of the wind. If it gets really cold, the eastern tent caterpillars hunker down in their silk tent together. The tent is constructed in layers, which allows them to move from level to level as the temperature requires. Conversely, if it gets too warm in the tent, the caterpillars will move to the shady side and suspend themselves separately, to allow air to circulate between them.

Eastern tent caterpillars can cause abortions in pregnant mares

Grazing mares can easily ingest eastern tent caterpillars in the spring, and that spells trouble for horse owners. Although generally harmless, eastern tent caterpillars are covered in tiny hairs called setae that can penetrate the walls of a mare’s digestive tract, including its intestines. This can introduce bacteria into the horse’s reproductive organs, and even the amniotic sac. After eating eastern tent caterpillars, pregnant mares may spontaneously abort their late-term fetuses, a condition known as mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS). During years when tent caterpillar numbers are high, foal losses can be significant. In 2001, Kentucky horse owners lost over one-third of their foal fetuses to MRLS. And MRLS doesn’t just affect horses. Mules and donkeys can also abort their developing young after ingesting tent caterpillars.

Tent caterpillar outbreaks are cyclical

Our Malacosoma tent caterpillars are native forest pests, and despite their voracious appetites, our forest trees can usually recover from the damage they inflict. Some years are definitely worse than others for tent caterpillar infestations. Every 9-16 years, the tent caterpillar populations reach a peak that causes significant damage to trees. Fortunately, these trends are cyclical, so after a particularly heavy infestation year, we typically see a decline in tent caterpillar numbers. If you’re favorite cherry or apple tree took a hit this year, don’t panic. Next year shouldn’t be quite so bad.

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«Horse owners should watch for eastern tent caterpillar, » University of Missouri extension, May 17, 2013. Accessed online August 15, 2017.

«Tent Caterpillars, Malacsoma spp.,» by Terrence D. Fitzgerald, Encyclopedia of Entomology, 2nd edition, John L. Capinera.

Science, Technology, and Math

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