1. PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLIES
I purchased two dozen from
Carolina Supply Company. This way, nearly every student could have their
own butterfly. They arrived in a small plastic container in pairs, and
arrived in the larval (caterpillar) stage:
Price: $18.95 for 30
larvae (Carolina Supply Company Catalog)
2. BUTTERFLY HABITAT
This was the center of
attention after the caterpillars turned into chrysali, as they are
transferred to this new home. The habitat should be sturdy and fairly
transparent for viewing. It should also be easily accessible. I purchased
a nice black-netted reptarium from Carolina. It has side zippers for
easy access to the inside:
Price: $65.00 (Carolina)
The habitat should be
enhanced with light from the outside. I used clamp spot lights. A
bonus, besides being able to light up the Painted Ladies, is that
the adults are attracted to the light
and become more active for viewing when you turn them on.
Butterfly attracted to
lamp light, which is resting on top of habitat:
3. HOLLYHOCK OR MALLOW PLANTS
The Painted Ladies lay
their eggs on member plants of the mallow family. I picked up about
8 hollyhock plants at a local flower dealer. The plants performed
well in the habitat. Mallow plants are available to order through
Carolina. However, I would warn against ordering plants through the
mail. I experienced some difficulty reviving the wilted mallows I
received. And the butterflies seemed to love the hollyhocks:
Another possibility is
to try using common thistle, another host plant for the butterfly.
Depending on the time of year, you may be able to very economically
transplant some from a field or roadside.
Mallow plants- $8 per
plant through catalog
Hollyhocks- about $3-4
per plant (but local plant dealers may be generous if you tell them
about your educational intentions for the plants- I scored 8 for
4. DIGITAL MICROSCOPE
The Intel QX3 Play Microscope
was marketed as a children's toy, but is an excellent tool for capturing
close-up shots and time-lapse images of the stages of the butterfly
life cycle (from caterpillar still shots to movies of the adult butterfly
emerging from the chrysalis). As seen in the pictures below, an incredible
feature of this microscope is that it can be used in its upright rest,
or as a handheld device:
PC compatible: $30-100.
Most stores have discontinued sales of this product, but check eBay
-- you'll find many for sale. Another source: compuvisor.com
for under $50
$160. Neo/Sci now sells a version of the microscope that works on
both platforms and comes with a curriculum guide complete with directions
and 36 suggested
activities with the microscope. You can find more information at
You will need a computer
in order to view the images from the digital microscope. The computer
will serve as a workstation for the students when using the digital
6. DIGITAL CAMERA
The digital camera will
allow students to record their observations to reflect upon later.
They can use the images in their final natural history report on the
Painted Lady life cycle and can also use them effectively to show
others what they observed via a project website. My students put a
website together using only pictures they took with the digital camera.
We borrowed cameras from the school's media center.
my student's research website
Price: $200 to $2,000
7. TEST TUBE RACK
When the caterpillars
turn into their chrysalis form, we transferredthem to a hanging position
in the large habitat. To do this, we rested the cheesecloth to which
they were attached over the holes in the test tube holder, with the
chrysalids hanging freely through the holes, ready for hatching. This
setup is seen below, to the right:
Example Test Tube Rack
Student Photograph of Our Setup
8. GUIDE BOOK
After the butterflies
emerge, and the students have a chance to describe them, they should
have a guide book in order to identify the species. Until this point,
the identity of the butterfly species should not be revealed.
The Golden Guide to
Butterflies and Moths is a great reference, showing the insects
in different stages of development, as well as providing distributing
maps. They are also the most affordable that I have found! Another
option is to borrow a guide from the library or from another teacher.
Your students really don't need more than one or two (my students
had one), as some can use the book when others are making observations.
9. SWALLOWTAIL CRYSALI
These are supplementary
to the research with the Painted Ladies. I purchased three Spicebush
and three Tiger Swallowtail chrysali. Below is a picture taken of
each species. The students can compare these two species' appearance
and development to that of the Painted Ladies, but this is optional.
Our swallowtails did not start to emerge for months after the Painted
Ladies, so don't give up hope on yours! They're not dead, but they
are awfully slow to emerge...
Price: $21.50 (Ward's
Mixed Swallowtail Set)
10. HANGING NET HABITATS
The swallowtail chrysali
were housed in smaller, less expensive habitats like this one.
These habitats are not
as useful for the Painted Ladies due to the fact that they are not
as easily accessible from the outside. You must untie the cord at
the top to enter. Since the swallowtail pupae take a long time to
hatch and do not require much attention, these habitats worked well
in housing the slow-pokes. We had two hanging habitats, one for each
of the species.
Price: $12.00 each
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