perimeter for butterflies, bees, wasps, and
other pollinators (look online for a comprehensive list with pictures). Record
in your field notebook what you see. If
you’re not sure of an insect species, write
down what it looks like, e.g., black wings
and body with yellow bands. If possible,
photograph it. Later, you can look it up
and identify it.
Next, slowly walk back and forth in
the experiment area. Start at one end and
walk to the other. If plants are growing
low to the ground, bend over to observe
if insects are hidden deep in foliage. Especially observe flowers up close. Write
down what you find. If you can identify
the plant, note the species of plant and
the species of insect attracted to it. When
you finish scouring the area, write down
the end time.
Repeat this experiment each day for
seven days, beginning and ending at the
same time each day. Compare your results. What days had the most insects?
What was the weather like on that day?
Which plants attracted the most bugs?
If you find very few beneficial insects
in your experiment area and want to attract more to your yard, add plants that
pollinators love, like butterfly milkweed.
After the plants have been flowering for
a few days, repeat the experiment. Compare your results to the number of insects
in your first experiment. Did they go up
or down? Why?
If you live in an apartment, modify this
experiment by growing plants in pots or
perform your experiment in a local park.
By trying this experiment you will discover the wonder and connectedness of
insects and plants and enjoy your own
Diana K. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies and
biology from Ohio Northern University.
She worked as an environmental scientist protecting rivers, lakes, and estuaries
in Pennsylvania and Florida for 14 years.
She has been a certified Master Gardener
since 2009 assisting University of Florida
Extension agents in providing research-based horticultural education to Florida
1. Sierra Club, John Muir Misquoted http://vault
2. USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service,
Insects and Pollinators http://www.nrcs.usda
3. Renee’s Garden, “Attracting Beneficial Insects to
the Garden with Beneficial Flowers” p. 2. https://
4. ArbicoOrganics, “GreenLacewings-Beneficial Insects.” http://www.arbico-organics.com/category
5. Pollinator Partnership, List of Pollinated Foods
6. Pollinator Partnership, Pollination http://www
7. Renee’s Garden, “Join the Million Pollinator Gar-
den Challenge.” http://www.reneesgarden.com/
Because beneficial insects perform an important role in protecting plants,
attracting them to your backyard is essential, especially if you cultivate a garden.