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Do Certain Colors Attract Butterflies and Bees More than Others?

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Author: Sofia PC

Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Zoology/Botany

Objective:

To see which colors most attract butterflies and bees, and whether color plays a role in selecting a flower for pollination.

Research Questions:

Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce and create new seeds for more plants. Pollination is when pollen (a very fine fertilizing powder) is transferred form the anther to the stigma of the plant/flower. This is sexual reproduction because genetic material is based from both parents (male and female gametes) to their offspring. Insects help pollinate plants like flowers because when they collect nectar from the flower, they transfer pollen from one flower to another when they hop around. In this experiment, we'll discover what role color plays in the pollination process. We'll also incidentally find out if bees and butterflies can tell the difference between artificial and natural flowers!

Materials:

  • Red roses, Pink roses, Yellow roses
  • White roses (these are going to be artificially dyed with floral dye)
  • Hydrangea in blue and white (going to be dyed)
  • Cymbidium Orchids
  • Floral dye in various colors (the ones you are using the in experiment) You can get this at specialty floral or crafts stores, an example of one brand is “Design Master”
  • Water (hot and room temp)
  • Butterflies (preferably different colored ones so they are easier to identify)
  • Bumblebees

Experimental Procedure:

  1. First, we are going to artificially paint the white-colored flowers to mimic the color of the naturally occurring flower colors used in this experiment.
  2. Floral dye is easy to use and simply requires mixing with hot water and allowing the dye to soak up and through the flower.
  3. Once you have dyed all of the flowers, it is time to experiment.
  4. In a greenhouse, place the flowers in rows based on experimental group and color (i.e. all the natural colors go on one side and the artificials go on the other side).
  5. Let the butterflies and the bees into the greenhouse.
  6. Monitor day by the day the trends of preference for each insect. Where do they tend to surround around or land on most often? You may also video-tape the happenings of the greenhouse as well to more accurately analyze this.
  7. It is most accurate to monitor the patterns for at least two weeks. The longer, the more accurate the results are. Below is a sample chart to help you collect data.
Chart

 

Day 1 Preference

Day 2 Preference

Day 3 Preference

Day 4 Preference

 

Butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terms/Concepts: Pollination; Pollen; Fertilization; Sexual Reproduction; Bumblebees; Butterflies

References:

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