Learn more about pollinators, plants, and how to create a butterfly garden with this activity from our educators!
Summary: Students will work individually or in groups to design a butterfly garden that could be planted in a local area (park, schoolyard, home, etc.). Students will research the habitat requirements for one or more species of butterfly and draw up a design with the placement and names of the plant species chosen.
*Adapted from Schoolyard Ecology Explorations – Monarchs in the Classroom, University of Minnesota
- Research habitat needs of butterfly species
- Design a butterfly garden that would support one or more species of butterfly
- Plants for Pollinators brochure
- Nature Museum’s native gardening resource
- Additional books/websites/blogs with information on butterfly habitats
- Gardening/plant catalogs (optional)
- Colored pencils or crayons
- Graph Paper
- Butterfly Garden background information handout
- Ask students how many of them have ever gardened before or have seen someone garden? Encourage them to share their experiences along with their favorite/least favorite parts, what they grew, and why they think gardens are important.
- Discuss the different requirements to maintain a healthy garden (water, sunlight, soil).
- Ask students how they think different insects might use a garden (food, shelter, reproduction).
Prepare to Explore:
- Introduce the idea of a butterfly garden. What specific requirements would a butterfly need to survive? They lay eggs and the caterpillars feed on only one or a few types of plants (host plants). The pupa then hangs from, or attaches, to a plant part. The adult nectars from a variety of flowers.
- Provide students with the Butterfly Garden Background Information page.
- Tell students that today they will be designing a butterfly garden that should provide a habitat for multiple species of butterflies (including food sources and shelter for both the larva and adult stages of the butterfly).
- Provide students with graph paper, colored pencils/crayons, a ruler and gardening/plant catalogs (if available).
- If applicable, students should try to make their garden ‘to scale’ where one inch on their paper equals 5 feet on the ground. The garden does NOT need to be a rectangle.
- Have students include some (or all) of the following design requirements in their garden:
- Flowers must be blooming in spring, summer and fall
- Include a variety of plant heights
- Have at least one tree or shrub
- Include at least 8 species of plant in the garden
Reflect and Share:
- Have the students share their designs and discuss how different species of butterfly could use each section of their design. Where are some possible places that a butterfly garden like this could be planted?