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I must admit I’m guilty of letting our kids play with iPad and iPhone. I don’t see any problems about that. However, instead of touching just a plain screen here’s some other things to explore.

To obtain understanding about nature let your kids play with real nature. Caterpillars, regardless of their size, are great to start with. Here’s Sienna with an almost full-size caterpillar of the Death-Head Hawk moth (Acherontia atropos) and a young caterpillar of the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). Learning nature is learning diversity, as well.

 

Day of the Painted Lady

Today we were out for a long walk with my parents and our kids. On our way home from the playground an increased number of Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) was flying. I wanted to use that moment to give our daughter Sienna a close-up.

It’s not easy approach a nervous butterfly, especially for a two year old child (she’s turning three next month). Attracting butterflies with flowers, or watching them right after hatching would be much easier. Nevertheless, it turned out we were pretty lucky today.

While we were after one of the Painted Ladies it took a quick rest on a Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), the food plant of its caterpillars. I couldn’t help myself taking a good look at the leaf it sat on for a couple seconds. I almost missed it, but then I spotted the egg. For the second time this summer I observed a butterfly laying eggs. Exactly two weeks ago it was a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). That caterpillar has, by the way, almost reached a size of 1.5cm so far.

Reviewing the photos afterwards I also identified Sienna and me were chasing two different Painted Ladies. One, the female laying the eggs, had its wings in pretty good shape. The other clearly suffered more. I’ll have a look at the same field in two weeks. Maybe I’ll find a couple more caterpillars.

Walk in the drizzle

Most butterflies need sunshine for getting active. On cloudy days they seek shelter from rain and predators. Nevertheless, these days provide a whole new challenge to the butterfly watcher.

Especially if you have kids a cloudy day is no reason to stay in. It’s rather a good reason to head out into nature to make some sightings you’ll be proud of.

If you are searching for caterpillars, pupas or even eggs weather doesn’t play that much of a role anyways. In fact, many caterpillar may be more active on a cloudy day or simply doesn’t care about the weather conditions at all. And well, pupas and eggs don’t have much of a choice anyway.

Taking a look back at early summer 2013 I was out with Sienna for a walk in the refreshing drizzle. That day we got lucky as we spotted a Pine Hawk-moth (Sphinx pinastri) resting on a pine next to the trail. Another, easier sighting was a Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) resting on nettles, which I usually check for caterpillars.

Give it a try…

Resting butterflies, once spotted, will be easy objects to be photographed or just to take a close view. Take your time with the camera, or give your kids a very special lesson on nature’s creatures.

Source: The Butterfly Playbook

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Sienna’s first caterpillar

Way before I officially decided to reinvent a childhood hobby, I could not keep myself from taking a close look at a beautiful caterpillar if one came across.

Late summer 2012, our daughter Sienna turned 1 a couple weeks ago, it was time of the large and fascinating hawk moth caterpillars to leave their food plant for digging themselves into the ground, build a cocoon and spend the winter as pupa.

This is the time of the year when common people may spot these beautiful, weird looking creatures as they might pass streets before finding suitable ground for digging.

We often walked along the river which floated close where we used to live back then. The river bed was the perfect biotope for all kind of insects, respectively for spotting them. If was rather usual to see caterpillars along the trails. However, this particular one of the Spurge Hawk-moth (Hyles euphorbiae) was right in the middle of the path. I decided to carry it to softer and safer ground, but not before taking a close look at it. This time, I also introduced the first caterpillar to my daughter.

Having no idea at that time that I’d one day start rearing caterpillars in form of a beloved hobby, it is pretty safe to say today that Sienna will see many more, and even bigger and more colorful species than the one that day.

Give it a try…

Caterpillars of hawk moths, also known as hornworms, are particularly suitable for kids. Due to their size and build it’s fun to raise them. They’re also more robust than other caterpillars.

Source: The Butterfly Playbook

Related photos