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Have you ever played on the playground at school and seen a butterfly floating through the air? They are beautiful and graceful, and if you don't know much about them, their behavior can seem very mysterious. With just a little research, though, you can learn all about these amazing creatures, and you might even have a little fun along the way!

Fun Facts About Butterflies

There's so much to learn about butterflies. The most basic thing to know about butterflies is that they are insects. They also have really fascinating life cycles that can be broken down into four parts. These parts are the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. What's really amazing about that is that they actually start out as caterpillars. If you see a caterpillar climbing the swings on your school playground, that caterpillar will one day sprout wings and fly!

One of the most remarkable butterflies, at least in America, is the monarch butterfly. That's not only because its wings are so recognizable. It's also because they behave in a really remarkable way. Once a year, monarch butterflies migrate, meaning they travel together a very long distance, almost 2,500 miles, in fact. Just imagine taking a walk from New York City to Seattle. That's basically what monarch butterflies do every year.

Butterfly Gardening

If you want to learn more about butterflies than you ever could reading a website or looking at them on your school playground, you can create your very own butterfly garden. A butterfly garden has plants in it that butterflies like, and since they like these plants, more and more butterflies will come to the garden, where you can watch them all you like.

The first thing you have to do is the boring stuff: You have to do your research. Read up on what butterflies eat and where they live. Focus on the butterflies that live in your area and what plants they like. Typically, the plants butterflies like most are milkweed and parsley. Next, you'll want to diagram the plants you want to plant. If you just start planting without a plan, you're not going to have a successful garden, and then the only butterflies you'll see will be those playground ones you see at school.

Once you plant your garden, all there is to do is take care of it and enjoy the butterflies. Right from the start, if you pay attention and maintain your garden, you'll be able to see female butterflies laying their eggs on the plants you planted. See, the plants you planted aren't there just because they look good. These are the plants that baby caterpillars like to eat. This means that adult caterpillars like to lay eggs on them so that when the eggs hatch, the baby caterpillars will have something healthy to eat. Once those eggs start hatching, you'll begin to see caterpillars all over your butterfly garden, and that means you're only a couple weeks from having butterflies flying all over.

At this point, it's up to you what you want to do. You can simply watch the butterflies and enjoy them, or you can be as scientific as you'd like. You can write down notes about all of the butterflies you see and find out what they're called. You can also write them down and then see what happens next year if you plant another garden. This way, you'll have a record of the plants you planted, where you planted them, and what came of your efforts. See what happens next year with some different plants or the same plants planted differently.

Butterfly Fun

You can have lots of fun with butterflies. This is true if you're just watching them on your school playground or in the garden. It's also true if you're not near any butterflies at all and are just watching something on television, or coloring them in a coloring book, or even dressing up like them for fun. There's so much to do with butterflies all year round. Whether you want to learn more or do something crafty, have fun!

Written by: Ben Thompson