Butterflies: Behind the Beauty

The Milwaukee County Zoo is bursting with butterflies during its special summer 2011 exhibit, “Butterflies! In Living Color,” sponsored by Sendik’s. Butterflies are bright, bewitching and beautiful. That’s a lot of “Bs.” So be ready for a blast!

Monarch butterflyWhat’s behind a butterfly’s beauty? Find out in the April 2011 Kids Alive (available to Zoological Society members) where you can learn how butterflies use color for protection, how butterflies benefit the environment and what eyespots are. There are different ideas about why some butterflies have eyespots. Some scientists think they resemble the eyes of big animals to scare predators. Other scientists note that predators often attack eyes first. So eyespots on a butterfly’s wings may keep predators from attacking a butterfly’s body. Even if its wings are torn a bit by a predator, the butterfly can still fly. For more information, look at Cool Science. In the April 2011 Kids Alive, you can also learn how to make a tasty butterfly treat for you and another tasty treat for a butterfly. On this page we include more about feeding butterflies. There are instructions for a butterfly feeder that you can hang outdoors. And there are tips on how to create a butterfly garden and what plants that butterflies and caterpillars like. Also check out the fun word search about butterfly names and behaviors. That way you can share a bunch of new butterfly words with your family and friends!
Activities by Erica Breunlin

Feeding Butterflies

The best way to feed butterflies is to create a small garden with plants that butterflies like to eat. For tips to get you started and a list of plants that butterflies like, click on “butterfly garden” below. Or, you can build a feeder to bring butterflies to your yard during the Midwest’s butterfly season, June-September. Make it as colorful as can be. Butterflies won’t be able to resist the sweet nectar you fill inside the feeder jar. Ask an adult to help you both make and hang the jar. This photo shows a simple way to hang it. Note: Do not put too much sugar in the water or the butterflies will dehydrate (lose water from their bodies). The best ratio is 10 parts water to 1 part sugar. Caution: Check the solution often and discard if you notice mold growth. Also, do not leave sugar water in an open pan in your garden or it will attract pests such as raccoons or rats. For materials and directions, click on “butterfly feeder” below.

Butterfly feeder over sink
Test out this butterfly feeder over a sink.
Butterfly feeder in garden
Then move the butterfly feeder outdoors.


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What’s in a Name Word Search

Some butterflies have names that are just as colorful as they are! They also have very interesting behaviors. Work your way through this word search to learn their neat names and even neater behaviors. Words can run up-down, across, diagonally, and backward.