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A sweet treat for local butterflies

This article appeared in the May 31, 2013 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

As summer approaches, more of us are spending time outside and may be observing some colorful flying visitors to our yards and gardens.  The butterflies are definitely out and about in Davis!

Butterflies love gardens full of flowering plants offering lots of opportunities for nectar.  But you can attract butterflies to your neck of the woods with a butterfly feeder.  Try making this fun project at home and enjoy a summer full of butterflies.

You will need:  a small jar like a baby food jar with a lid, a hammer and nail, water, sugar, a spoon, a small pot, a clean sponge, scissors and string.  Make sure before you start that your jar, lid and sponge are very clean; butterflies won’t like to eat off of dirty dishes.

First make some butterfly food.  Mix one spoonful of sugar with nine spoonfuls of water in the pot.  Get an adult to help boil the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then let it cool.

Meanwhile, make your feeder.  Get your adult to help you use the hammer and nail to make a hole in the lid.  Then cut a piece of clean sponge to fit in the hole; you want it to stick out of the lid an inch or two.

The sponge should be completely wet but not drip.  Test it by filling your jar with water, fastening the lid with the sponge in it, and turning the jar upside down.  If it’s dripping, try cutting a bigger piece of sponge.

Once your sugar water mixture is cool, you’re ready to fill and hang your butterfly feeder.  Fill the jar with the sugar mixture and fasten the lid.  Use the string to hang your butterfly feeder upside down so the sponge is sticking out the bottom.

You want to hang your butterfly feeder some place where the butterflies can find it but where you can see it easily so you can enjoy watching the butterflies have lunch.  Remember to change your sugar water mixture in the jar every few days so the butterflies have nice fresh food to eat.

As butterflies visit your feeder, they will hang around the bottom where the sponge is sticking out and use their tongues like a straw to suck up the sugar water from the sponge.  The sugar water is a lot like the sweet nectar that butterflies usually get from flowers.

Davis is home to many different types of butterflies including some different swallowtails and even monarchs, especially in the fall as they are making their way south for the winter.  Check out http://bioregion.ucdavis.edu/where/buttrfly.html to learn about some of the butterflies you might observe in and around Davis.  And share your discoveries with Explorit at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

 

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Explorit’s events:

• Join us at The Klubhouse 2 in West Sacramento on June 1 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. for a special Zumbathon to supporting science education.  This will be a great opportunity to enjoy some high-energy cardio fitness dance fun while supporting Explorit Science Center, hands-on science activities and interactive learning for our community. Tickets are available at http://zumbathon4explorit.bpt.me/ for $20 in advance or $25 at the door.  Water will be provided, but bring a towel, because we’re going to sweat!

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org.  You can also “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb or follow us on twitter at @ExploritScience.

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