I can be a butterfly - The butterfly wedding
Where do Ms Butterfly and Mr Butterfly meet?
Many butterflies find their mating partners by hilltopping, a behaviour that sees male butterflies instinctively seek out ridges and the top of hills where they patrol while looking out for females who have flown up the slopes to seek a partner. Movement, colour and shape as well as scents (pheromones) disseminated by the butterflies allow for recognition of suitable partners and a successful conclusion of the courtship. Once mating has occurred, the females fly back to the lower lying areas in search of larval host plants.
The Butterfly Wedding
A delightful way to explain how pheromones work is to prepare little containers for every child, fill them with cotton wool from the supermarket and add drops of fragrant oils. The scents have to differ strongly to avoid confusion especially among younger children. Don't choose too many different fragrances as that will confuse too. Easy ones are lavender, citrus, vanilla, mint, eucalyptus or tea tree.
The containers need to have a little netting cover made fom old curtain material or fly mesh, secured with a rubber band. It is recommended to add the scent before you cover the container with netting. Please ensure the containers' outside walls are free of any scented oils.
Prepare the small containers in pairs according to pheromones, mix them before distributing them among the children. Let them find their butterfly partner with the matching scent.
Be prepared for being a partner if numbers are not even and for supporting the search with your nose. Also, don't prepare too early. Scents may fade.
Image: JG-Jutta Godwin