Posts tagged ‘butterflies’

May 29, 2014

Little Sprouts Flutter Through the Conservatory: Our Butterfly Friends

by Melissa Harding

DSC_0028

Butterflies are beautiful creatures that are not only important to plants, but pretty fun to learn about too! Our Little Sprouts were especially excited to learn about these pollinating pals; in the latest Little Sprouts: Singles, Our Butterfly Friends, campers learned how butterflies help plants as they searched for them in the Butterfly Forest.

To begin, campers created caterpillars out of cardboard and fabric stripes. When they were finished, they decorated a giant butterfly mural with different color dots, making a beautiful butterfly. Campers used both crafts in the lesson as they learned about butterfly body parts and the process of metamorphosis. They learned how a butterfly starts out as a larva, slowly growing until it creates a chrysalis, then finally becoming an adult butterfly. Campers acted out the process with their bodies and looked through butterfly goggles to pretend they were butterflies about to drink some nectar.

After learning so much about their butterfly friends, campers took binoculars through the Conservatory to find some live ones. They found quite a few fluttering in the Butterfly Forest and even stopped to find some flowers that these critters might like to eat! They used their fingers to find the pollen and nectar inside of the flowers and used their senses to explore some especially sweet-smelling blooms.

If you would like to learn more about butterflies with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Looking Closely Inside the Garden
by Frank Serafini
Butterflies in the Garden
by Carol Lerner
Becoming Butterflies
by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey

Our next Little Sprouts, I Eat Plants, is scheduled for June 9-12, from 10:30 am-noon. This camp is currently full, but if you would like to join our waiting list, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, including summer camp, please visit our website.

To see more photos from camp, check out the slideshow below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above pictures were taken by Phipps Science Education Staff.

May 7, 2014

Home Connections: Raising Butterflies Indoors

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Science Education_ Butterflies (1)You may have noticed that the butterflies are back for the summer. Cabbage whites are fluttering around your broccoli, looking to lay some eggs, and tiger swallowtails are looking for nectar in your flower beds. Butterflies are out of hibernation and looking for a good time. Adult butterflies spend their days doing two things – drinking nectar and laying eggs. These eggs are the start of the butterfly life cycle, which is both exciting and easy for even young children to understand. Beyond that, the life cycle has an air of mystery about it: What is really happening in that chrysalis? How does the butterfly get in there? While it is very enjoyable to watch them flutter around your backyard and to look for eggs and caterpillars on your plants, it can be even more fun to raise butterflies indoors. This is a great way to practice scientific thinking; your child will learn about the butterfly life cycle while utilizing his deductive and observation skills – and have a good time doing it!

To begin with, you will need some caterpillars. There are multiple online resources that provide you with both caterpillars and a butterfly habitat. It is best to purchase a butterfly species that is native to your area so that you can release them after you are done. Each kit come with care instructions to help you give your caterpillars a comfortable experience. Make sure to follow the directions regarding feeding and when to put your chrysalids in the larger butterfly habitat. You will also need magnifying glasses, a nature journal and any butterfly resources that may help your child learn more about butterflies. (See the bottom of this post for resource ideas).
hghhg

Learn about Larvae
Begin your butterfly experiment by observing the caterpillars; set aside a set time each day to observe your critters together with your child. Caterpillars have interesting bodies; they have both “true” legs and little suction cups called “pro legs”. They also have an assortment of spines and patterns to confuse their predators. Take some time and observe your new friends. What colors are they? What end is the head and what end is the tail? Encourage your child to use his magnifying glass and learn about caterpillar anatomy. Caterpillars also engage in some pretty weird behaviors. Watch them walk upside-down on plant stems and use their jaws to gnaw away at leaves. The caterpillars you receive should go through several stages of molting, so see if you can catch them in the act! There are many exciting behaviors that your child can observe and record. Some of these  are so strange that it may prompt your child to start asking questions; this is a good time to give them resources to help fill the gaps in their knowledge, while encouraging them to wait and see if they can discern the answers by further watching.

Chrysalis Count-down
One of the most mysterious parts of the butterfly life cycle is the pupa stage, or the chrysalis. Before your caterpillar molts for the last time, it will hang in a “J” shape off one of the branches in its container. This is a great time to keep an eye on your caterpillar, as you may be lucky enough to watch it shed its skin and turn into a pupa. The skin that makes up the chrysalis is very different from the skin of the larva; it may be a completely different color. Often, this is to camouflage the vulnerable pupa from predators. Once your caterpillar is in the chrysalis, create a chart in your journal to count down the days until it emerges. It can often take up to two weeks for this to happen and there is very little else to observe during this time, so counting down the days is a fun way to keep your child engaged in the process.

butterfly phipps unplugged technology petruskaBeautiful Butterflies
Soon you will notice the chrysalis begin to shake. This is caused by the butterfly inside wiggling its way out! If you can catch this in action, it is an incredibly exciting sight. The butterfly will emerge slowly, covered in a sticky, red liquid; this is meconium, the remnants of the metamorphosis process. For the next several hours, the butterfly will flap its wings to dry them and fill them with blood. This is a very vulnerable time in the life of a butterfly; it is unable to fly until the wings are dry. Make sure to have a source of nectar in the habitat for your hungry butterfly to drink once it is ready. Have your child record this process if they are able. This is a rare opportunity for your child to get incredibly close to a butterfly; observe it carefully, maybe even drawing or painting it. Watch it unfurl its proboscis to drink nectar and use its antennae to smell. Count its legs and talk about the qualities of an insect. What an exciting time to observe!

Time to Fly
When you are done observing, it is time to release the butterflies. They will not be happy in their habitat for very long, nor will they be able to complete the butterfly life cycle without a mate. Releasing your butterflies can be a special occasion; reading a poem, sharing observations or even going to a special spot that you think the butterflies will like are all lovely ways to celebrate the life cycle. Slowly open the habitat and gently shoo the butterflies out into the open; they may falter a bit at first, but will quickly find their wings and soar away to find food and mates.

Here are some resources to help you get started on your butterfly raising journey:
Live caterpillars:
InsectLore and Carolina Biologicals are reputable places to get started; you can find a kit to match any price point. Try to purchase your caterpillars from a site that sells them for education, as opposed to weddings or events.
Taking care of your critters: This resource will give you details on how best to raise your new friends.
Butterfly gardening: Make your yard friendlier to all pollinators with these tips.
Monarch tagging: Monarch Watch is a citizen science program that helps scientists to track the migration movements of monarchs.

Phipps Science Education 71Field guides and other butterfly resources for all ages
Check some of these books out of your local library and learn more about your pollinating pals; check the card catalogue for related titles!
Butterflies through Binoculars by Jeffrey Glassberg
Butterflies of North America by Ken Kauffman
Kids Look and Learn: Butterflies! by Becky Wolf
A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston
Backyard Books: Are You a Butterfly? by Judy Allen
National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
National Geographic Readers: Great Migrations Butterflies by Laura Marsh 

Watching this process gives children a sense of the complexity of the life cycle and makes them feel like they have been a part of helping their caterpillars to grow. A wonderful activity, growing butterflies can connect children to nature on multiple levels; if it peaked your child’s interest in butterflies, spend some time observing the ones that visit your yard. You can also go to your local botanical garden or children’s museum; these informal learning institutions often have pollinator gardens to attract butterflies of all kinds. Some even have butterfly rooms, like at Phipps, where butterflies are cultivated in large numbers. If your child’s interest in butterflies continues over the summer, consider raising another species of butterfly at home or taking part in a monarch tagging program at your local nature center. The sky is the limit!

The above pictures were taken by Christie Lawry and Julia Petruska.

May 29, 2013

Little Sprouts Flutter Through the Conservatory: Our Butterfly Friends

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Camp_5-17-13_46

Butterflies are beautiful creatures that are not only important to plants, but pretty fun to learn about too! Our Little Sprouts were especially excited to learn about these pollinating pals; in the latest Little Sprouts: Singles, Our Butterfly Friends, campers learned how butterflies help plants as they searched for them in the Butterfly Forest.

To begin, campers created butterfly sensory bags out of plastic bags, pipe cleaners and paint. Grown-ups helped campers to choose their favorite colors and squirt several dabs of paint into a zip-lock bag. Campers then smoothed their fingers over the colorful bags, creating a rainbow inside. When they were done, they twisted a pipe cleaner over the middle of the bag to create a butterfly friend. Campers also created butterflies out of coffee filters; campers colored a plain filter with markers and then clamped a clothes pin in the middle to create a different kind of critter.

Phipps Camp_5-17-13_8

Campers used both of their crafts in the lesson as they learned about butterfly body parts and the process of metamorphosis. Miss Hanna explained how a butterfly starts out as a larva, slowly growing until it creates a chrysalis, then finally becoming an adult butterfly. Campers acted out the process with their bodies and looked through butterfly goggles to pretend they were butterflies about to drink some nectar. Miss Hanna also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; campers got to munch on some spinach leaves and pretend they were hungry caterpillars, too!

After learning so much about their butterfly friends, campers took magnifying glasses through the Conservatory to find some live ones. They found quite a few fluttering in the Butterfly Forest and even stopped to find some flowers that these critters might like to eat! They used their fingers to find the pollen and nectar inside of the flowers and used their senses to explore some especially sweet-smelling blooms.

If you would like to learn more about butterflies with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Looking Closely Inside the Garden
by Frank Serafini
Butterflies in the Garden
by Carol Lerner
Becoming Butterflies
by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey

Our next Little Sprouts, We Like Dirt, is scheduled for June 10-13, from 10 am-noon. This camp is currently full, but if you would like to join our waiting list, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, including summer camp, please visit our website.

Check out the slide show below for more pictures!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The above pictures were taken by our wonderful volunteer, Pam Russell.

May 14, 2013

Home Connections: Raising Butterflies Indoors

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Science Education_ Butterflies (1)You may have noticed that the butterflies are back for the summer. Cabbage whites are fluttering around your broccoli, looking to lay some eggs, and tiger swallowtails are looking for nectar in your flower beds. Butterflies are out of hibernation and looking for a good time. Adult butterflies spend their days doing two things – drinking nectar and laying eggs. These eggs are the start of the butterfly life cycle, which is both exciting and easy for even young children to understand. Beyond that, the life cycle has an air of mystery about it: What is really happening in that chrysalis? How does the butterfly get in there? While it is very enjoyable to watch them flutter around your backyard and to look for eggs and caterpillars on your plants, it can be even more fun to raise butterflies indoors. This is a great way to practice scientific thinking; your child will learn about the butterfly life cycle while utilizing his deductive and observation skills – and have a good time doing it!

To begin with, you will need some caterpillars. There are multiple online resources that provide you with both caterpillars and a butterfly habitat. It is best to purchase a butterfly species that is native to your area so that you can release them after you are done. Each kit come with care instructions to help you give your caterpillars a comfortable experience. Make sure to follow the directions regarding feeding and when to put your chrysalids in the larger butterfly habitat. You will also need magnifying glasses, a nature journal and any butterfly resources that may help your child learn more about butterflies. (See the bottom of this post for resource ideas).
hghhg

Learn about Larvae
Begin your butterfly experiment by observing the caterpillars; set aside a set time each day to observe your critters together with your child. Caterpillars have interesting bodies; they have both “true” legs and little suction cups called “pro legs”. They also have an assortment of spines and patterns to confuse their predators. Take some time and observe your new friends. What colors are they? What end is the head and what end is the tail? Encourage your child to use his magnifying glass and learn about caterpillar anatomy. Caterpillars also engage in some pretty weird behaviors. Watch them walk upside-down on plant stems and use their jaws to gnaw away at leaves. The caterpillars you receive should go through several stages of molting, so see if you can catch them in the act! There are many exciting behaviors that your child can observe and record. Some of these  are so strange that it may prompt your child to start asking questions; this is a good time to give them resources to help fill the gaps in their knowledge, while encouraging them to wait and see if they can discern the answers by further watching.

Chrysalis Count-down
One of the most mysterious parts of the butterfly life cycle is the pupa stage, or the chrysalis. Before your caterpillar molts for the last time, it will hang in a “J” shape off one of the branches in its container. This is a great time to keep an eye on your caterpillar, as you may be lucky enough to watch it shed its skin and turn into a pupa. The skin that makes up the chrysalis is very different from the skin of the larva; it may be a completely different color. Often, this is to camouflage the vulnerable pupa from predators. Once your caterpillar is in the chrysalis, create a chart in your journal to count down the days until it emerges. It can often take up to two weeks for this to happen and there is very little else to observe during this time, so counting down the days is a fun way to keep your child engaged in the process.

butterfly phipps unplugged technology petruskaBeautiful Butterflies
Soon you will notice the chrysalis begin to shake. This is caused by the butterfly inside wiggling its way out! If you can catch this in action, it is an incredibly exciting sight. The butterfly will emerge slowly, covered in a sticky, red liquid; this is meconium, the remnants of the metamorphosis process. For the next several hours, the butterfly will flap its wings to dry them and fill them with blood. This is a very vulnerable time in the life of a butterfly; it is unable to fly until the wings are dry. Make sure to have a source of nectar in the habitat for your hungry butterfly to drink once it is ready. Have your child record this process if they are able. This is a rare opportunity for your child to get incredibly close to a butterfly; observe it carefully, maybe even drawing or painting it. Watch it unfurl its proboscis to drink nectar and use its antennae to smell. Count its legs and talk about the qualities of an insect. What an exciting time to observe!

Time to Fly
When you are done observing, it is time to release the butterflies. They will not be happy in their habitat for very long, nor will they be able to complete the butterfly life cycle without a mate. Releasing your butterflies can be a special occasion; reading a poem, sharing observations or even going to a special spot that you think the butterflies will like are all lovely ways to celebrate the life cycle. Slowly open the habitat and gently shoo the butterflies out into the open; they may falter a bit at first, but will quickly find their wings and soar away to find food and mates.

Here are some resources to help you get started on your butterfly raising journey:
Live caterpillars:
InsectLore and Carolina Biologicals are reputable places to get started; you can find a kit to match any price point. Try to purchase your caterpillars from a site that sells them for education, as opposed to weddings or events.
Taking care of your critters: This resource will give you details on how best to raise your new friends.
Butterfly gardening: Make your yard friendlier to all pollinators with these tips.
Monarch tagging: Monarch Watch is a citizen science program that helps scientists to track the migration movements of monarchs.

Phipps Science Education 71Field guides and other butterfly resources for all ages
Check some of these books out of your local library and learn more about your pollinating pals; check the card catalogue for related titles!
Butterflies through Binoculars by Jeffrey Glassberg
Butterflies of North America by Ken Kauffman
Kids Look and Learn: Butterflies! by Becky Wolf
A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston
Backyard Books: Are You a Butterfly? by Judy Allen
National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh
National Geographic Readers: Great Migrations Butterflies by Laura Marsh 

Watching this process gives children a sense of the complexity of the life cycle and makes them feel like they have been a part of helping their caterpillars to grow. A wonderful activity, growing butterflies can connect children to nature on multiple levels; if it peaked your child’s interest in butterflies, spend some time observing the ones that visit your yard. You can also go to your local botanical garden or children’s museum; these informal learning institutions often have pollinator gardens to attract butterflies of all kinds. Some even have butterfly rooms, like at Phipps, where butterflies are cultivated in large numbers. If your child’s interest in butterflies continues over the summer, consider raising another species of butterfly at home or taking part in a monarch tagging program at your local nature center. The sky is the limit!

The above pictures were taken by Christie Lawry and Julia Petruska.

April 30, 2013

Follow the Fellows: Learning How Invasive Plants Affect Butterfly Populations

by Melissa Harding

Davis head photo new

The Botany in Action Fellowship program at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens fosters the development of a next generation of plant-based scientists who are committed, first, to excellent research, and second, to educational outreach. Open to PhD students enrolled at US graduate institutions and conducting plant-based scientific field research, the BIA program provides Fellows with funding for use towards field research in the US or abroad and a trip to Phipps, to engage in science outreach training and opportunities to share his or her research to public audiences.

Current BIA Fellows are engaged in research in locales from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois to Nepal, India, and Brazil. Their work covers topics ranging from the role of green roofs in urban biodiversity and the influence of heavy metal soil pollution on plants and pollinators to identification of plants used by healers that protect brain cells from the progression of Parkinson’s disease

November’s featured fellow is Samantha Davis. Samantha is PhD student at Wright State University in Ohio. She is researching how garlic mustard, an invasive plant that occurs all over the northeast, is influencing a rare butterfly, the West Virginia White. Garlic mustard is ruining many of our natural areas. Sam’s work can help discover how and why garlic mustard affects our ecosystem, and what we can do to prevent more damage.

Read an update on Sam’s research and life as a scientist at the Botany In Action website! You can also learn more about her work on her blog, Tracking the West Virgina White.

You can follow Sam and all of the BIA as they study plants across the US and across the world at the Follow the Fellows section of our Botany In Action website.

The following Botany In Action update was written by Amanda Joy, Botany in Action Fellowship coordinator.

The above image was provided by Samantha Davis.

September 14, 2012

School Program Spotlight: Butterflies

by Melissa Harding

In this new feature, School Program Spotlight, we will be exploring the content of some of our most popular school programs.

What insect tastes with its feet and smells with its antennae? It can also see the largest color spectrum of all insects, including ultra-violet and polarized light, and is covered in scales. Oh, and there are over 18,000 different species.

If you guessed that we talking about a butterfly, you’re right! Our most popular program, by far, is Butterflies. Every year, over a thousand children come to Phipps to learn about butterflies and walk through our Butterfly Forest. This 2-hour field trip is broken into two 1-hour parts: the classroom portion and the tour.

In the classroom, we use detailed images, videos and fun props to teach students about the butterfly life cycle, anatomy and adaptations. We talk in-depth about how a caterpillar can hatch from its shell only millimeters large and then grow 100 times its size in a matter of weeks, only to transform into a butterfly by creating a chrysalis of its own skin. Once inside, the caterpillar uses its stomach enzymes to digest its own body, turning into a kind of “caterpillar soup” and metamorphosing into an adult. From there, we compare anatomy and survival adaptations of both caterpillars and butterflies, focusing on mimicry, camouflage and chemical protection.

The tour portion of the program consists of a self-guided or docent-lead tour of the Conservatory. Those who would prefer a self-guided experience may request a PDF of our self-guided tour or explore on their own. Those who choose the docent-lead tour will learn about the history of the Conservatory and the plants of our tropical and desert biomes, as well as take a walk through our Butterfly Forest. Operating seasonally as our butterfly room, it is full of butterflies from April to September. When in season, there are cases of chrysalides installed along the trail, giving students the opportunity to see a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis and dry its wings. In the room itself, many different species of butterflies feed, mate and lay eggs among the lush foliage.

If you are a teacher and would like more information on how to sign up for this or any other school program, please use the “Registering for Programs” link in the menu above. Please note that scout groups, home school groups and other groups of 10 or more may sign up for any of our school programs as well.  Groups that book programs for September 1-December 31 are also eligible for our 25% off fall discount

The above pictures were taken by Julia Petruska and Christie Lawry.

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