Adapted from The Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve, schools pack
- To identify and observe different species of butterflies
- To see how butterflies feed
15 minutes to set up the table + observation time
You will need
- external plywood, 30cm by 30 cm (approx.)
- support for the feeder
- binoculars (optional)
- jam jar lids & sugar solution
Did you know?
Caterpillars of peacock butterflies, red admirals and the small tortoiseshell butterfly, all eat stinging nettles.
Before the activity
Discuss where to put the feeder with the class. It needs to go somewhere quiet where it won't be knocked and somewhere where butterflies will find it. Do they want it to be close to the classroom window?
Find out which flowers are particularly attractive to butterflies and plant them in flower beds or pots and containers close to the classroom window.
Use a post or bricks to support the feeder, or screw metal eyes into the corners of the plywood and suspend the feeder outside a window or from a tree. Dissolve sugar in water and place the sugar solution in jam jar lids placed on the feeder. Use brightly coloured card placed under the lids to attract the butterflies. You could try different shapes and colours of card and try to mimic real flowers using different colour combinations of petals and centres.Find out which colour of card attracts the most butterflies, does the card need to be flower shaped? Is it better to mimic a real flower that butterflies like? Is it better to have one big flower or lots of little ones? Design your own experiment to test which 'flowers' are most attractive to butterflies. Remember to take the weather into account.
Suggested Follow upMake 'squashed' butterflies by folding a piece of sugar paper, painting half a butterfly on one side of the centre line and then squashing the two sides of the paper together. You can add more colours and squash again. When the paint is almost dry, paint on a body and antennae. Cut out and display either by hanging from thread or fastening to the wall or window.
Grow flowers which are particularly attractive to butterflies in pots and containers in the school grounds. Select plants that will flower at different times of year so that the butterflies have a continuous supply of food.
Research and draw the life cycle of a particular butterfly. Include which food plants their caterpillars eat and how they get through the winter (some butterflies migrate, some hibernate and some spend the winter as a chrysalis).
- Information about British butterflies see Butterfly Conservation
- Information about common garden species of butterflies RSPB A-Z of a wildlife garden
Butterflies - Illustrated book from Scottish Natural Heritage part of the Naturally Scottish series
Scottish Natural Heritage also provide free leaflets about planting for wildlife and butterflies in the Garden For .... series:
- Garden for butterflies
- Garden for birds
- Garden for life
- Garden in pots and containers
- Garden for food
These are available from SNH Publications at Battleby, Redgorton, Perth, PH1 3EW, Tel 01738 444177
- Science - main
- Art - associated
- 1. Pre-school
- 2. Primary