It’s a boy! According to our research, the Swallowtails with larger yellow dots are male. Our butterfly garden has had a lot of caterpillar activity. The dill plant has been so popular with caterpillars that it is nearly leafless. Thankfully, we have some fennel in another location to feed our hungry caterpillars. We currently have two chrysalises in the library, and one caterpillar who looks like it will pupate at any time. Having caterpillars is such an exciting event at our library. Everyone interested to see the metamorphosis!
We saw a caterpillar in our butterfly garden! According to the research I did, this caterpillar should turn into a Black Swallowtail. I have not seen the fellow for a while, which I hope means that it has formed a cocoon in some safe place.
The first time I saw caterpillars eating dill in a friend’s garden, I said “I think you have a problem.” She informed me that she was letting the caterpillars eat her dill on purpose because they were going to turn into Swallowtails.
We have had a little trouble with the hungry/thirsty birds. I created this very simple bird bath to help quench their thirst, and maybe stop them from eating the plants (and pollinators).
Here is more information about our Pollinator Project.
While looking for habitat-related activities, I ran across Marimo Moss Balls. These spherical algae balls grow in slightly brackish (salty) lakes in Japan. They were first made popular in Japan as “pets.” They require very little care; you just need to change the water every other week. I ordered them online and re-hydrated them when they arrived. The activity involved decorating mason jars with colored shell pieces, glass pebbles, tumbled glass, ribbons, or lace. Most decorations were hot glued on the outside of the jars, but some people made interior decorations. Here is a link to a Marimo care guide. Marimo can live up to 200 years if cared for correctly! Our teens were very excited about their new pets.
Book planters are a fun way to combine reading and a love of plants. For our activity, I precut the book holes using a matt knife. Even though there are a lot of pictures of book planters online, I wasn’t sure that books would actually retain water, so I ordered some air plants. Air plants can be taken out of their environment for a ten minute soaking, or they can be watered with a spray bottle. After they lined the holes with wax paper and white glue, the teens had a fun time decorating the open books and selecting shells, rocks, and sand for their plant environments. Here are some of the materials I had out: old notes, maps, lace, shells, rocks, sand, pieces of wood, and hard coat Mod Podge. They coated the entire collage with hard coat Mod Podge in order to protect it from water. Hopefully, they will learn a little about plants with their new air plant friends.
This week we had our last group visit to the pumpkin patch. There were cute little baby pumpkins, and the squash bugs had been eliminated. We got to use some custom tools in our weed battle (great for the zombie apocalypse as well). After slaughtering a few weeds, we received a tour of the weather yard where instruments in little white houses create accurate rain, temperature, and humidity measurements. Many thanks to the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center, and also thanks to Addie Billinger for the fine footage below: