Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Fun - Sharing the Joy of Monarch Butterflies with Children!

It's too hot to see Monarch Butterflies in Phoenix during the summer, but it's a wonderful time to learn all about them!

Photo by Laura
Teens at the Audubon Nature camp learned about the life-cycle of monarchs. Then we took time to explore the nearby milkweed, their only host plant. While the monarchs are in the northern part of the country now, their family kin, the queen butterflies, are found in the desert almost year round.

Photo by Laura

Looking closely at Desert Milkweed, Asclepias subulata, we can find a world of interesting critters! Today we found aphids and small ladybugs and their larvae. Ladybugs will eat the aphids and keep their population under control. But ladybugs can also eat queen or monarch butterfly eggs.

Chandler Public Library Discovery Stations
 Nearly 75 children attended the Monarch Madness Story Hour at the Chandler Public Library. We featured a power-point presentation of a great book about Western monarchs called  "Fly, Fly Butterfly" by Diego H. Pedreros Velásquez. (A special thank you to Mr. Pedreros for permission to create this Power-point. He recently lowered the purchase price of this wonderful book to $12.95 in response to our economy and a donation will still be made for monarch conservation.) You can read more about this amazing true-life story in a review by Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch. Afterwards everyone wanted to learn more about this curious insect, so we had Discovery Stations to explore.

Chandler Public Library
Butterfly wings and things under magnifying glass containers gave an up close look at scales and the male "dot" on the wings. 

Creating Monarch Caterpillars

We created monarch caterpillars out of pipe-cleaners at another station.

Saving seeds to help the monarch migration!
 We learned about the importance of growing milkweed to help save the monarch butterfly migration. Then we separated milkweed seeds from the "fluff" of Desert Milkweed, Aslcepias subulata. These seeds will be sent to Monarch Watch as part of their Bring Back the Monarchs campaign.

Chandler Public Library 

To help learn the complexity of flying in wind, we created monarch airplanes! Preschoolers and teens alike enjoyed the experience at their own level. Watch what we did with them here: Audubon Day Camp Monarch Plane Launch!

 It's a great summer to learn new things about this wonderful world of nature all around us!

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