Kids’ Corner: Pollinator Party

Elizabeth Kubey Photo: Jisoo Kim

By Elizabeth Kubey

On my neighborhood walk this week, I stopped to look at a patch of bright yellow sunflowers. Standing on the sidewalk, I forgot my urban surroundings as I focused on insects crawling around on the flowers, covered in fluffy yellow pollen.

If you asked me what pollinators were when I was a kid, I probably would have said just “bees” and “butterflies.” But I’ve learned that many creatures can be pollinators, including beetles, birds, bats, and more. Let’s get to know these lively creatures who help our native plants bloom.


New Words:

  • Bee and beetle on sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

    Pollen: A fine powdery substance full of microscopic grains that helps plants make fruits, nuts, and seeds. All flowering plants and conifers (plants that make cones) make pollen.

  • Pollination: When grains of pollen travel from a flower’s anther structure to the stigma, to create a seed (see figure to the left). Some plants need help from insects and animals to carry the pollen. For other plants, wind and water can do the trick. Some plants can pollinate themselves, while others must get pollen from another plant.
  • Pollinator: An insect or animal who helps move pollen.
  • Anther: The part of a flower that makes pollen.
  • Stigma: The sticky top of the style that receives pollen.
  • Style: The tube-like structure where pollen travels to the ovary.
  • Ovary: A structure at the bottom of the pistil that holds eggs (ovules) and makes seeds when joined with pollen.

Pollinator Bingo Walk

Go on a walk around your neighborhood and try to find these plants and pollinators. Write down what you observe about how pollinators are interacting with the plants. Find as many of the items as you can. A “bingo” is five across in any direction!

What surprised you on your walk?
Did you notice what plants pollinators like to visit?

Color in this California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), California’s state insect

Host Plants and Their Butterflies

When you invite friends into your house and offer them snacks, you are being a good host. When plants provide insects and other pollinators with shelter and food, we call them “host plants.”

Building off our summer adaptation lesson, we know that plant and animal species can change over long periods of time in order to survive and thrive in different habitats. Sometimes pollinators and plants coevolve, meaning they change because of each other. Some host plants and pollinators depend on each other to survive because of their long histories of working together.

Take pictures and write down notes about the soil, surroundings of the plants, and different parts of the plant. It’s also important to note the setting of where you are, including as much detail about the location as possible. What county, city, or town are you in? Are you in a city or a rural setting? Near the beach? In the mountains?

Visit Calscape.org and click the butterfly tab to learn about three butterflies and their host-plants.

Butterfly name:
Latin name:
How many host plants do I have?:
Name 1-3 host plant(s):
Two observations of the butterfly:
Two observations of the host plants:

Zine

(Adapted from https://www.readbrightly.com/how-to-make-zine/)
Choose your favorite butterfly and tell its story by making a zine. A zine is a tiny do-it-yourself magazine that combines images and words. There are no rules. Be as creative as you want!
You can make a couple and share them with your friends.

Materials: Paper (at least 8.5 x 11”) Scissors Coloring supplies

How to make a zine booklet:
Step 1: Fold your sheet of paper in half. Fold it again into quarters, and one last time to make 8 sections.
Step 2: Open your paper so that it is folded in half. Cut halfway across the middle from the fold. When you open your paper there should be a slit in the middle.
Step 3: Fold your paper lengthwise, along the fold that has the cut. Hold the paper at either end, then push the ends in toward each other to create an 8-page booklet.


Malia Hofsteen made a monarch zine about their relationship with milkweed!

If you play bingo or make a zine, take a picture and with the help of an adult post your images on social media and tag @californianativeplantsociety or email ekubey@cnps.org.

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