Butterfly feeders can be made from a variety of easy to find and recycled resources. They can be placed on walls, on sticks in flower or vegetable beds or hung from low branches to attract pollinating insects such as butterflies to the sweet fruit slices or juices that they hold.
The video below (2:30 mins) shows four different ways students can make a butterfly feeder. Students may adapt or combine some of the ideas to design one of their own.
Students can think about colours, the materials the feeder is made of – they need to be weatherproof, and the ideal location for their feeders.
For this activity you will need:
- Assorted recycled plastic lids and tubs,
- Coloured plastics (these can be cut from old shopping bags),
- String (optional for hanging designs),
- Soft fruit that can be easily sliced – bananas, apple, etc.
- Cucumber – believed to repel wasps and ants,
- Sugar, warm water and a jug to make a sugary nectar (optional),
- Some old kitchen sponges that can be cut up (optional),
- Tools to make holes and cut plastic.
Once the feeders are placed and filled with slices of sweet fruit or home-made nectar, students can observe the insects they attract.
It may be useful for older students to plan their design on paper first and decide which materials they will need.
They may want to keep a tally of the different species of insect their feeder attracts.
Do certain fruits attract more insects than others?
Maybe they can do some drawings or make some models of their favourite insect and share them with Teachers’ Corner!
- If making a sugar water ‘nectar’, make sure any water used is not too hot.
- You will want to place the feeders some distance away from the school building and ask children to leave them, and any insect they attract, undisturbed. A teacher could take digital pictures for display on a whiteboard in class.
- Pest insects like ants and wasps may be attracted to them, although slices of cucumber can repel them as wasps and ants do not like the bitter taste.
- An adult should replenish the feeders and should supervise any cutting up of fruit.
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