Support Endangered Pollinators! Frugal Fun for the Whole Family!

We here at A Grade Ahead are beginning to daydream about how we’ll spend our summer. As many of us have heard, our bees are in decline. Pollinators are a critical part of our ecosystem. Without them, many plants would not survive. While beekeeping is a worthwhile skill, it takes a good bit of time and knowledge to master and some special equipment.  But it isn’t just bees that are in trouble, nor are they the only pollinators. Butterflies and moths do a good bit of the work too. Butterflies are also in decline, and one of the biggest reasons is that their habitats are shrinking. Now, this situation is something that almost anyone can help fix, and it can be great frugal fun for the whole family, plus it brings beauty to your home. Not to mention, it is great educational enrichment in the subject of science!

The Importance of Milkweed

Butterflies love milkweed. They prefer it as their host plant to lay their eggs and feed them during the larval stage. Milkweed contains a compound called cardenolide which is poisonous to other insects but not to butterflies – this helps protect them from enemies. Milkweed is also inexpensive, and there’s one for every kind of environment. I just bought a six pack of 600 heirloom, untreated seeds in six varieties on Amazon for only $13.99, and they’re all beautiful!

Building a Butterfly Cage

After the milkweed grows and the butterflies come and lay their eggs, you can make a butterfly cage to get a close-up view of the coming transformation. Cages can be made as simply as taking a box, some tape and some netting (perhaps recycled vegetable bags?) and making a cage. Check out this YouTube video for details. Have your kids draw some butterflies and caterpillars on the cage or use stickers. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Put in some stalks of milkweed leaves with eggs, a few sticks, a capful of water, and wait to see what happens.

Too impatient to wait for the milkweed to grow? You can purchase caterpillars in a cup filled with feeding material and then move them to the cage to watch the transformation begin. This can lead to some great conversations about how our own bodies change, the importance of rest and relaxation, the circle of life, and what great work these caterpillars will accomplish once they transform into butterflies.

Butterfly Care and Maintenance

Maintaining a butterfly habitat is easy. Add colorful flowers to your yard and make sure there is a fresh water source – it doesn’t need to be big; a simple bird bath will suffice. Encourage your kids to make charts counting the butterflies they see in order to learn the different varieties and their names. You can get a field guide on butterflies. Your family can report their findings to the North American Butterfly Association.

Spend part of your summer improving the world. Plant a butterfly habitat in your backyard and then sit back and enjoy the beauty of nature from your first-row seat.

Resources for Supporting Pollinators

Resources about the Butterfly Life Cycle

What do you think? Do you support pollinators with plants in your garden? Have you ever built a butterfly cage and watched their transformation? What’s your favorite way to support your child’s education at home? Looking for more? Take a free assessment with A Grade Ahead today!

Author: Holly Manlove-Schaad, Teacher at A Grade Ahead, Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Don't miss the latest article! Stay up-to-date on our blog posts by subscribing below.