Students will be able to:
- identify that pollination is important to many plants and, consequently, to humans;
- describe the role that butterflies play in pollination;
- identify and describe which butterflies may be rare or endangered and why;
- describe the importance of suitable habitat to butterfly survival; and
- describe actions that people can take to contribute to healthy pollinator habitats.
Students plant a school garden to provide habitat for butterflies and other pollinators.
Seeds or nursery stock for native perennials, basic gardening tools, watering cans, sunny space in the school yard or planting boxes
A well—planned garden can provide habitat over much of the life cycle of some of Canada's beautiful butterflies: hidden spaces for eggs to hatch, green leaves and stems for caterpillars to browse, safe places for pupae to mature, and sweet, sweet nectar for emerging (or visiting) adults. In a world where natural pockets of habitat are becoming increasingly scarce, especially outside protected areas such as parks, your contribution will likely be well used by myriad winged wildlife They will return the favour by performing that essential service for renewing ecosystems — pollination.
Butterfly species vary across Canada and have adapted to local plants. CWF's Wild About Gardening website at has all the information to get you started, including:
- a searchable encyclopedia of native plant species that attract butterflies (and other wildlife);
- a province-by-province listing of local sources for native plants and seeds; and tips for planning a successful wildlife garden.
For funding information and to register a Habitat 2020 project, visit the Habitat 2020 website.
- Here is a list of general tips to keep in mind:
- Plant in the spring and use a variety of species
- Choose sunny spots protected from foot traffic.
- Select plants native to your region. Avoid exotic, invasive plants; they can compete with native species to the detriment of local ecosystems.
- Include plants for caterpillars as well as adult butterflies.
- Use butterfly-friendly plants such as aster, dogbane, fleabane, goldenrod, milkweed, coneflowers, black-eyed Susan and lupine.
- Water regularly and weed out undesired growth.
- Mulch to help conserve moisture and reduce weeds, which will be important in the summer when the school is empty.
- Recruit parent volunteers (according to teachers, parents help enrich students' experience of their garden).
- Have students research and plan a garden to inspire feelings of ownership and responsibility.
For younger students:
- Discuss the importance of pollinators and what people can do to help pollinators such as butterflies.
- Keep the activity very simple. Find a small corner away from heavy use in the school yard. Or use flower boxes situated in appropriate locations outside.
- Have students plant varieties of hardy, native flowering plants. (teachers suggest that mature plants work best with young students to prevent tiny feet from breaking seedlings).
- Involve students in the care of the plants (regular watering and weeding).
- Have students observe, sketch and talk about the butterflies that visit their garden. Brief them on precautions for bees and other stinging insects.
For older students:
- Discuss the importance of pollinators and pollination, including the threats to pollinators, particularly the need for suitable pollinator habitat. Link the discussion to cases of rare butterflies.
- Involve the students in planning the garden project, including the location, landscape plan, permission from authorities, communications with the school community and the actual work plan.
- Involve students in researching the species of butterflies they wish to attract and the species of native plants that are appropriate for the site.
- Acquire the plants. Organize a work bee for the initial planting and a duty roster for the care and tending of the garden.
- Monitor the garden and keep a written, photographic or video log.
NOTE: Send videos, photos and reports to CWF about your project.
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