school projects

MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES



All butterflies and moths go through a metamorphosis (change). They start as caterpillars then, as pupae, encase themselves in a cocoon, where a remarkable change take place and they finally emerge as adults. Caterpillars feed on leafy plants, such as grasses and nettles. Adult moths and butterflies gather on plants with nectar-bearing flowers. As you will see from the projects here, bright lights and mixture of fruit and sugar will bring moths fluttering. Some butterflies have wings with warning colors. The markings tell predators that they are poisonous to eat. Other butterflies are harmless, but mimic (copy) poisonous species. Their colors fool predators into avoiding them, too. The best way to attract butterflies is to plant a butterfly garden. Choose plants that bloom at various times of the year.

TORCHLIGHT ATTRACTION

YOU WILL NEED

Garden gloves, trowel, small flashlight, camera.

step 1
STEP 1

Wearing gloves dig a small hole in the garden with a trowel. Do this in the daylight, and remember to ask an adult’s permission first before you start to dig.

step 2
STEP 2
Check that your flashlight fits inside the hole. At dusk turn on the flashlight and put it inside the hole. Fill any gaps with earth to hold the flashlight securely in position.


step 3

STEP 3
Step back and watch the moths flutter around the light. You could try taking flash photographs of the insects with a camera. How did your photos turn out?


SWEET MOTH FEAST

YOU WILL NEED

Brown sugar, spoon, food scales, mixing bowl, soft overripe fruit, fork warm water, paintbrush, flashlight, field guide.

step 1
STEP 1

Begin by measuring out about 1½in of brown sugar with a spoon into your scales, or a measuring bowl. Pour the measured into your mixing bowl.

step 2
STEP 2
Add the overripe fruit to the mixing bowl, and mash it with a fork. Keep mashing until the fruit has become a pulp. Add some warm water until the mixture becomes runny.


step 3

STEP 3
Paint the mixture onto a tree trunk or a fence post. Return when it is dark. Take a flashlight to help you see the moths feeding, and a field guide to help you to identify them.


BUTTERFLY GARDEN

YOU WILL NEED

Seeds or young plants, gloves, trowel, rake, watering can, notebook, pencil, field guide.

step 1
STEP 1

First you need to grow some plants. Wearing a pair of gloves, dig up your chosen patch of earth with a trowel.

step 2
STEP 2
Break up any large clods of earth with a rake or trowel. Now start to rake over the top of your plot, so that the earth is evenly spread and crumbly.


step 3
STEP 3
Dig several small holes for your plants with the trowel. Place the plants in the holes, and press the earth down firmly with gloved hands around the base of each plant.

step 4
STEP 4
Water the plants well. They will need to be watered regularly through the spring and summer. The sun will scorch wet leaves during the day, so water your plants at dusk.

step 5
STEP 5
Record which butterflies you see visiting your flowers. A field guide will help you to identify them. Which species prefer which flower? And which is the most popular plant?


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