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What’s a Bug’s Favorite Color?

based on 8 ratings
Author: Jane Healey

Grade Level: 6th; Type: Entymology

Objective:

This project has two goals: one is to demonstrate that insects observe colors and choose favorites, and the other is to practice gathering data and displaying results. People tend to think of insects as pests and do not consider their capabilities. In fact, bugs see colors invisible to humans, and they prefer those associated with favorite nectars. To document this assertion, students need to patiently observe and record.

Research Questions:

  • Do bugs have favorite colors? 
  • Can they detect the difference between colors?

Color and sight keeps bugs alive. Insects rely on short wavelength colors like ultraviolet to navigate. They can even detect the sun through a thick layer of clouds. They also rely on pollen lines—often invisible to the human eye—in the centers of flowers to locate the nectar. 

The independent variables in this project are the colors, and the dependent variables are the insects that land on each sheet. The constants are the observer and the conditions.

Materials:

  • Red, yellow, green, blue and purple construction paper
  • White paper
  • Honey
  • Washers
  • Ruler
  • Logbook

Experimental Procedure:

  • Create a chart for the colors and expected insects.
Color
Fly
Moth
Bee
Butterfly
?
 
RED
 
 
 
 
 
 
BLUE
 
 
 
 
 
 
YELLOW
 
 
 
 
 
 
GREEN
 
 
 
 
 
 
PURPLE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. Make copies of the chart.
  2. Place colored pieces of construction paper on a flat, glassy surface. Use washers on corners to hold down.
  3. Sit 3 feet away. Be still and patient.
  4. Mark the appropriate box when bugs land on the papers.
  5. After 20 minutes, total your marks.
  6. Repeat the 20 minutes with a clean chart.
  7. Compare the results and repeat as desired.
  8. After completing rounds of the observation, place a dab of honey on the least popular color of construction paper.
  9. Wait another twenty minutes, recording the bugs’ landings as before.
  10. Compare the results and speculate about the reasons for the differences.

A series of bar charts can visually display the results of this project:

 

Terms/Concepts: Compound eyes; Nectar; Pollen

Bibliography

 

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