Help Butterflies This Summer
Nothing says summer like butterflies. But these beautiful pollinators need our help ~ as much as we need theirs. Here are some great ways to help scientists learn more about these important insects:
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
Monitor patches of milkweed weekly to count monarch eggs and larvae, and assess milkweed density. This data will help scientists determine the distribution and abundance patterns of monarch butterflies in North America.
The parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), which is not harmful to humans, limits the Monarch butterfly's ability to survive in the wild. This project involves capturing butterlies and swabbing their abdomens to collect parasite spores. Families, retired persons, classrooms, monarch organizations, nature centers, and individuals are encouraged to participate ~ no special skills or knowledge required.
Monarch Watch Tagging
Through this project, Monarch Watch hopes to interest students in the conservation of habitats critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly and its magnificent migrations.
Help offset the loss of milkweeds and nectar sources -- critical Monarch habitats -- by creating "Monarch Waystations" in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, zoos, nature centers, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land. Without a major effort to restore milkweeds to as many locations as possible, the monarch population is certain to decline to extremely low levels. Once a “waystation” has been created, it can be certified and a sign may be purchased from Monarch Watch.
The Red Admiral and Painted Lady Research Site
Help scientist learn more about Vanessa butterflies, including Red Admirals and Painted Ladies. How do they migrate and distribute themselves across North America each year? Your data will be added to an interactive map that shows how their range expands northward in the spring, and retreats southward in the fall.
Here are some lessons you might find useful:
View more lesson ideas here!
'Bee' Good to the Bees
Spring showers bring summer flowers, and hopefully attract our favorite pollinators. According to the University of Illinois, over 75% of the planet’s flowering plants depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. The majority of those pollinators are insects, including more than 5,000 species of bees. Unfortunately, colony collapse disorder has caused bee populations to drop dramatically in recent years.
Get your kids excited about protecting bees (and reassure their fears about bees at the same time). Don't use chemical insect controls in the garden, especially early and late in the day, and particpate in these citizen science activities (details listed below this article):
View more lesson ideas here!
Activities to Download
These fun activities use multiple intelligences to emphasize math, science, music, language and visual arts in the garden. (Adult supervision required)
Role Playing: From Seed to Sprout
Chart Your Own Garden
Create a Garden Diorama