Observing butterflies in the outdoors

 

The warmer season is butterfly (and other invertebrates) exploration time. There is ample opportunity for education and easy learning in the outdoors, tailored to the different ages of children. 

 

While it's nice to know butterflies by name, younger children will already delight in observing colours, wing patterns, sizes, movement, and will find the connection between butterfly and host plant. Every life cycle stage can be observed in nature. Children may discover an egg or egg clusters, may even observe a butterfly oviposit (lay eggs). They may observe caterpillars feeding on leaves, and see a chrysalis (pupa) attached to a stem. 

 

Older children can investigate 1m  transects or larger areas and find all of the above, distinguish between native plants and weeds (educators may want to invite the local catchment group to help), seek out larval food and nectar rich plants, and discuss the effect of exotic flora taking over from native plants.

 

Investigating a school yard or a home garden and planning for and creating habitat by clearing exotics and planting native provenance is a great way of actively helping our butterflies. 

 

Using the illustrated flyer from Brisbane's Big Butterfly Count will encourage children (and entire families) to find 31 common local species and engage with butterflies and their habitat. 

 

Brisbane Catchments Network and individual member groups organise multiple public events including surveys during which butterflies are caught, identified and released. Why not encourage participation?

 

life cycle stages of misc. butterflies 900w

 Images: JG-Jutta Godwin; SA-Sylvia Alexander