Butterflies in Idaho
activity exercisesuggested grade levels: 7-12
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

This can be a fun activity for a classroom. Butterflies work together with plants because butterflies feed on the nectar from plants and in return the butterflies pollinate the plants. Butterflies are an important part of most habitats. This type of activity encourages students to work up close with butterflies.

1. Students will learn how to use the butterfly section of the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will do some field biology research.
3. Students will learn about the range and habitat of butterflies.

1. Tell your students that they will be observing and/or collecting butterflies in nearby habitats. They will record and map the locations of the butterfly family and species names using the Digital Atlas Butterfly Key. They will also record the number of sightings of each type of butterfly. To get to the butterfly key: Click on Atlas Home, Biology, Butterflies, then on Visual Key. To use the key, match your species with the ones shown that have the same characteristics. Pay close attention to detail. If you are careful, your choices should lead you to the correct species page where you can find out the name and basic ecology of your species.

2. Have students use a local map or even draw their own map of the area and plot where each species was located. The finished product should have the following:
       1. The location of habitat
       2. The places where Butterflies were seen
       3. Notes on the number of butterflies of each species. (This can be adapted to fit classroom needs)

3. Questions for class discussion:
       1. Do particular families of butterflies use particular habitats?
       2. Do particular species of butterflies use particular habitats?
       3. Does the number of butterflies change from on habitat to the next?
       4. Are there any habitats where no butterflies could be found? Do you think you might find butterflies if you observed this habitat during a different  time of day?

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
Visual Key

Related Lesson Topics:
Biology: Butterflies
Biology: Biology Topics

Lesson plan by Doug Anderson , 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: