Plants and animals use color in a variety of ways. Some animals use color to camouflage, or blend into, their environment. Other animals may have bright colors to attract a mate or as warning colors to tell predators that they are toxic or taste bad. Plants are green due to chlorophyll, the chemical that helps them change sunlight, water and air into sugar and oxygen. Plants may also have brightly colored or patterned flowers to attract pollinators.
Colors Fun FactSome harmless animals will mimic the warning coloration of other poisonous or venomous animals. The scarlet king snake has the same red, black, and yellow stripes as the venomous coral snake, but the colors are displayed in a different order. The two snakes look so similar that people have developed a rhyme to keep them straight. “Red touch black, safe for Jack. Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”
More Colors Tips
Click on the links below to learn more about color in nature
- Make Six Shares representing six different colors. These photos must capture living things found in nature, but you can reuse photos you’ve already submitted throughout the different ecoEXPLORE Field Seasons. Include “color badge” in the comment section when you submit each share.
- Watch the video of Jenna Kesgen, our Creativity in Nature Mentor. Choose an animal or plant that is native to your area and re-imagine it in a new environment. How would its color change based on its surroundings, predators, and behavior? Create a work of art that shows your newly imagined organism and then tell us what changes you made and why. Take a photo of your art work and email it to [email protected]
- Pick two of your color photos and do research to learn why your photo subject is that color. For example, why is a cardinal red? Or, why is the grass green? Write out your answers and take a photo or scan your writings and email it to [email protected]
Colors Science Mentor
Jenna Marie Kesgen grew up in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. From spending many hours exploring the woods as a child, she has developed a deep love and appreciation for nature. She has used this passion as inspiration for her artwork. Over the past fifteen years, Jenna has lived in many places around the world, including Spain, Ecuador, New Orleans, New York, and Oregon. Throughout her travels, she has documented the many beautiful places, flora, and fauna that she has come across through her paintings. Some of her artistic accomplishments include a Best in Show in the art gallery competition entitled “Bridges” at Gallery 364 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in August of 2007. She has contributed to many art markets, including the Bywater Art Market in New Orleans, LA. She also painted the four wall mural displayed at the North Mountain Park Nature Center in Ashland, Oregon. Jenna Marie Kesgen now lives in Asheville, North Carolina and works at The North Carolina Arboretum as an Environmental Educator and Interpretation Specialist.
Jenna is serving as our Creativity in Nature Mentor.