Butterfly Search | Desert Botanical Garden


Butterfly Search

The Garden has the power to quiet the distractions of life and recenter human connection with nature—even for children. In this activity, kids engage in the natural world around them to search for and count butterflies interacting with plants.

This is a test.

CF Activity-01


  • Timer
  • Pencil
  • Notebook or Blank Paper with Clipboard
CF Activity-02


Go on a walk nearby your house, and keep an eye out for flowering plants that could potentially attract butterflies. When you find a plant you would like to survey, sit down and get comfortable.


Record the following information: 

CF Activity-04

Even if it is not a particularly active flower, enjoy your time outside observing the flowers and butterflies. Butterfly season in Arizona is typically from Aust through October. If you choose a very large plant that would be difficult to monitor closely, select a smaller section of the plant to observe carefully.


Make a prediction

How many butterflies do you think will visit this plant in five minutes?

CF Activity-05

Observe & Analyze

Set a timer for five minutes and observe your plant. During this time, tally up the number of butterflies that visit. Also list the plant’s other visitors, including bees, ants or birds. What do they do when they visit the plant? At the end of five minutes, add up your tallied insects. How does your original prediction for butterfly visits compare to your measured results?

Continue your walk and select two other similarly sized flowering plants to observe and record what you see.

Analyze your findings. Which flowering plants had the highest number of butterfly visits? Which had the highest number of visitors total? Why do you think this is?

Ready for more?

Scientists don’t have time to sit and observe flowers and butterflies for hours and hours, but with some math, can make helpful assumptions for longer periods. Extrapolate your data sets to estimate how many butterflies and other visitors stop at each plant for 10 minutes, one hour and 12 hours.

CF Activity-03