I can be a butterfly - The world through butterfly eyes


Butterflies have big round compound eyes, each made up of many tiny optical units, all used in unison. With these eyes they have a much larger field of vision which allows them to more easily recognise food sources and water, and be alerted to predators. 


For this very enjoyable activity kaleidoscopes with multiple facets are needed. They will help children to understand the concept of compound eyes. You may have to go online to find a source. Your 'butterflies' will have fun exploring the world around them.


compound eyes of butterflies

 Left: large butterfly eyes of a skipper by SA-Sylvia Alexander  -  Right: the view through a kaleidoscope by JG-Jutta Godwin


The colour we see when looking at a flower is quite different from what butterflies look at. Their compound eyes work with special photoreceptors which allow them to see ultraviolet light. As flowers have evolved to show ultraviolet patterns, the path to nectar rich blooms is made easier. 



 The flower of a strawberry under natural light (left) and exposed to ultraviolet light. Image by Dave Kennard, CC BY SA 3.0


Take flowers into a completely dark room (or create a smaller dark space), use a torch which emits ultraviolet light and shine it on the flowers. The effect is dazzling. 


Main image: JG- Jutta Godwin