This is probably our most popular unit and a fascinating topic for students and teachers.
The New York State Department of Conservation has ruled that butterflies cannot be released without a permit which at present is not being issued by DEC. For information on why releasing butterflies might be a problem for the environment, see the statement of the North American Butterfly Association.
Teachers using the Elementary Science Program's Butterfly unit can access the leveled readers for the unit by clicking on the link below or on left navigation and entering the password supplied in your kit.
Tip: When butterflies first emerge from the chrysalis they get rid of wastes produced while they were metamorphosing. This is a reddish-orange liquid called meconium. While it looks a little like blood, meconium is not a health risk to humans.
The larvae are raised in small plastic cups containing food. If the larvae need food, water and oxygen from the air, like all land animals, can you tell how the cup gives the caterpillar what it needs?
There is enough food in the kit to raise one generation of larvae. To raise a second generation from eggs the butterflies lay, you need to feed them plant leaves. They will eat burdock, thistle, Romaine lettuce, or mallow such as Rose-of-Sharon or common mallow. Common mallow is a weed found in many yards and vacant lots in New York State.
Use this link to see an adult painted lady, the species raised in this unit. You can see photos of different stages at All About Painted Lady Butterflies and a printout with an adult to color at EnchantedLearning.com.
Visit our Migrating Insects page and our Animals in Winter page to learn a little about how some insects deal with the approach of winter. During the warmer parts of the year, use our Butterfly Watching page for some tips on observing wild butterflies.
Another butterfly species popular with many teachers and students is the monarch. Visit Monarch Watch to learn more about this famous migrant and Life Cycles: Monarch Butterfly to learn about its life cycle. The Journey North site has information on monarch and other migrations.
The Missouri Botanical Garden has information about raising butterflies and moths in the classroom. Visit the Children's Butterfly Site and the Electronic Resources on Lepidoptera for other butterfly links and resources. Bugbios has detailed information about butterfly wings.
For identifying and learning more about moths, close relatives of butterflies, as well as about butterflies, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America.
For information about how a moth can became a pest species, visit the Gypsy Moth in North America site. To see and learn about some of North America's most spectacular moths, visit Wild Silk Moths or Giant Silkworms.
For a list of plants that are good for attracting butterflies, visit The Butterfly Site.
A special thank you to Kate K., a seventh grader who told us about a great site to learn about butterflies and other wildlife in Mexico. Visit A Guide to Mexican Sea and Wild Life to explore other parts of the world.
Common Core State Standards Correlation for ESP units.