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For this project, you will need to find a caterpillar. Butterflies lay their eggs on the plants that their caterpillars like to eat, which are called host plants. Some common host plants for butterfly and moth caterpillars are alfalfa, aster, broccoli, cabbage, clover, dill, milkweed, parsley, snapdragon, and sunflower. Trees that are hosts to caterpillars include birch, chokecherry and cherry, cottonwood, elm, oak, and willow. (Here is a list of some common butterflies and their host plants.) Ask an adult to help you figure out which of those plants you have in your yard or someplace near your home where you could go to look for caterpillars.
Put a few small twigs and blades of grass in the container to give your caterpillar more interesting places to explore. The caterpillar will not need any water, but it will be very hungry, so make sure you remember what plant it was eating when you found it so that you can get fresh leaves from the same kind of plant. Feed your caterpillar once a day, or more often if it eats all the fresh leaves sooner. Take the old leaves out before putting new ones in. Let the caterpillar go after a couple days.
Note: Instead of finding your own caterpillars, you can order some. You will not need to feed these caterpillars anything because the containers that they come in have all the food they will need, but you can watch them eat and turn into butterflies!
Butterflies love to drink nectar. The sweet juice from fruit is like nectar. Butterflies don't have noses, but they can sense smells through their antennae and their feet! When a butterfly lands on liquid, it knows it is something it could eat and its proboscisuncurls to drink up the liquid! A proboscis works sort of like a drinking straw and the liquids that it sucks up through its proboscis go directly into the butterfly's body. Colors also help butterflies find food. Their favorite colors are purple, red, orange, yellow, and pink, because those are the colors of most flowers that have sweet nectar that butterflies can easily drink.
What is symmetry? When something is exactly the same on both sides, it is symmetrical. True symmetry means that one side is a mirror image of the other side, so if you could draw a line down the middle of an object and fold it in half along the line and the two halves matched up to each other perfectly, the object would be symmetrical. Symmetry can be seen in lots of things around you. Here are some examples: snowflakes, butterfly wings, insects and spiders, seashells, flowers, letters, shapes, buildings, your body, and many more. Some things may seem symmetrical, but really aren't exactly the same on both sides. One example is your face. Even though it looks mostly the same on each side (you have two eyes and ears and your forehead, mouth, nose and chin are all shapes that can be split in half), there are small differences that are hard to notice unless you look very closely. These pictures show you what some kids would look like if both sides of their faces were perfectly symmetrical. You will see that some people's faces are slightly more symmetrical than others.
Can you find any examples of symmetry? Look around your house or take a quick walk outside to find some things that are symmetrical. How many of your objects are things found in nature, or not created by humans? Print out this worksheet and decide which of the pictures are of something symmetrical and which ones are not.