I can be a butterfly - Using the proboscis


While caterpillars feed with their mandibles on vegetation, adult butterflies don't have any mouth parts to chew. They can only drink. They need a lot of nectar to keep their energy levels up. To sip nectar they uncoil their long feeding tube, the proboscis, to reach into a flower's nectar source. 


Proboscis 3

 Lyell's Swift (Pelopides lyelli) with proboscis - Images by DM-Deborah Metters


What better way to investigate the technique than by using a party blower to imitate a proboscis. The paper variety is the preferred one as the 'proboscis' can be disposed of sustainably, once used. Avoid the type with any noise making implements. Your nerves will thank you for it.


Choose an area with flowering plants at a height for the children to reach. If naturally growing plants are not currently in flower, take pot plants along which are in bloom.  The children will have fun exploring their surrounds and finding their favourite nectar rich flowers.  


This activity also provides ample opportunity to teach children about the role butterflies play as important pollinators moving from plant to plant.  


Image: JG-Jutta Godwin