butterflies in a field of flowers

Garden Lesson: 
Butterflies

Set up the lesson

Ask Questions

Below are example questions that can help guide your conversation. These questions can be tailored to the age of your children. More details for grade-specific vocabulary words and topics can be found in the education standards links at the bottom of this page. A printer friendly copy of the lesson with more content and activity sheets is linked below, too.

  • What is pollination and why is it important? Pollination is the process of transferring pollen from the male part of a plant (anther) to the female part of a plant (stigma) to fertilize the plant, make seedlings and produce more flowers, fruits and vegetables.
  • What is an ecosystem? Multiple species are each able to meet their needs in a stable web of life and different plants and animals all depend on each other to survive.
  • How do butterflies fit in the ecosystem? Some species of butterflies eat bad bugs like aphids. Caterpillars and adult butterflies are a food source for bats and birds.
  • What is a beneficial bug and how can they help the garden? Beneficial means helpful. Butterflies are beneficial because they help pollinate plants.
a butterfly on leaf

Once you know what butterflies need to survive, you can attract them to your home.

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden 

  • Plant 'host plants' that the caterpillars like to eat. This will encourage adult butterflies to come lay their eggs on these plants. Great host plants include milkweed, dill, parsley, and fennel.
  • Plant flowers that have nectar to feed butterflies. They especially like: lantana, echinacea, coreopsis, salvia, day lilies, lavender, yarrow, verbena, and butterfly bush.
caterpillar of swallowtail butterfly on dill

Printer Friendly Version

Download a printer-friendly PDF of this lesson plan with additional content and activity sheets.

Other Butterfly Activities

Butterfly garden drawing

Garden Time

Plant nectar plants to attract adult butterflies and host plants so caterpillars can eat as they grow. Here is a Butterfly Garden Project for inspiration.

Butterfly garden feeder

Craft Time

Make a Butterfly Feeder from a plastic plate and string. Kids can also complete the activity sheets included in the printer friendly version linked above.

Ladybug Fruit Skewers

Story Time

Read Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" or any book from this Scholastic list.Kids can also write their own story about a butterfly.

Education Standards

This lesson plan supports science education standards for grades K to 5.