Feeding a Butterfly in Dr. Fink’s Kitchen

"I’m Dr. Linda Fink from the Biology Department at Sweet Briar College and I’m going to feed a monarch butterfly. I’m just going to take some normal table sugar. And I’m going to make a sugar solution that’s about 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. I can use any kind of a flattish dish. It doesn’t matter what you use because butterflies are not fussy.

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Question: "What’s that you’re putting in the dish?"

"That’s a Kleenex, and Lincoln tells me that Kleenex is better than other paper things, so we use Kleenex. We keep our butterflies, when we have to hold them for awhile, in these little wax envelopes, glassine envelopes. They are not air tight. This is a female butterfly.

"As long as I hold her by her four wings, by the front edge of the wings, she’s not going to struggle too much--she’s not going to be flapping. Now I’m just going to take a pin. She’s going to taste this sugar with her front feet, so if she’s thirsty she might put her proboscis out all by herself. But if she isn’t, I’m going to help her out a little bit, I’m going to uncurl her proboscis, and if she’s hungry…. There she goes!

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"After a butterfly has eaten it needs to have a bath. We’re going to do it the informal way and give her a shower. And that’s so she doesn’t get little bits of sugar encrusted on her legs and on her thorax."

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