Butterfly Bonanza

September 26, 2012

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On 01 September 2012, a lovely sunny day brought Francine, Gregory, Maureen, Jasper, Mark, Robert, Rowan, Elliott, and Suzanne along with our leaders, Art and Alicia, out on a Butterfly Bonanza for the Young Macnamaras.   

Alicia had a sample of a Monarch butterfly where we saw its front and back sides.  She asked if it was a male or female specimen.  If it has a dark dot/”eyes” on its wing, it is a male.  She also showed fantastic pictures of the different stages that it takes to turn into a Monarch Butterfly from egg to pupae to chrysalis to beautiful flying creature.  We learned that the Monarch Butterflies migrate to Mexico and we saw a picture showing what looks like leaves in a forest but they are all migrating Monarch butterflies.  Pretty impressive! 

Did you know that some butterflies only live in the forest?  Well it’s true! 

Gregory was our insect-catcher-extraordinare catching whatever flew by his keen eyes and net.  He was a joy to watch.  The other kids enjoyed the catch and came to see whatever was being shown.  The kids also learned how to be damselflies by putting their arms (wings) back and together.     

Jasper found a wing of a locust which was probably eaten by a flycatcher, blue jay or dragonfly.  

At one point, Art made us all stop for a minute and listen to the sounds of nature.   It was hard.  We heard lots of birds and quite possibly the seed pods breaking in the plants that surrounded us.  Pretty cool! 

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Here are some things that we saw on our outing: 

Butterflies

Monarch

Monarch Caterpillars on Milkweed

Painted Lady

Common Cabbage White (Black dot on wing top)

Clouded Sulphur (Female)

Common Ringlet Butterfly (A black spot means it is a Ringlet.  Skippers do not have spots under their wings.)

Eastern Tailed Blue (Has an orange dot on its back wing.)

Dragonflies:  Did you know that the back part of a dragonfly tail determines its species and the stigmata are the dots that you see on dragonfly wings?

Black Meadowhawk (Female and Male)

Common Green Darner (Wow!  It’s the biggest dragonfly in Canada and an awfully pretty dragonfly species.

Lance-Tipped Darner – as large as the Green Darner, and a lot harder to find, and even harder to catch. Gregory did a fine job catching this large dragonfly (photo)

White-faced Meadowhawk

More Insects

Wood Moth spp.

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars (Alicia’s favourite caterpillar because they are cute and fuzzy.  They are orange, black with white tufts.)

Damselfly 

Birds

Hairy Woodpecker (Female) 

Botany

Milkweed (The kids enjoyed breaking the milkweed pods up and spreading its seeds.)

Wild Mint (Little Purple Flower)

Chickory

Golden Rod spp

Queen Anne’s Lace (Going to Seed)

Wild Parsnip – Black Swallowtail Butterflies or Caterpillars feed on these poisonous plants.

Butter and Eggs Toadflax (Look like small yellow dragonsnap flowers)

Winterberry – Tall bush with lots of red berries

Oregano

Jewel Weed or Touch Me Not (Orange flower in marsh area.  When touched, the seed pods explode.  The kids really enjoyed exploding the seed pods.)

Bullrushes (These are not Cat-tails!)

Swamp Milkweed

Yellow Loosestrife (Native) 

Marsh St. Johnswort- only flowers in the evening.

More Critters and Sightings

Gartersnake

Red Squirrel feeding in the marsh

Deer prints in the marsh area

Painted Turtle (Art explained that the Marsh Highlands also has the endangered Blandings Turtle.) 

All in all, it was a marvellous day filled with lots of wonder and excitement which radiated off the kids.  I always enjoy the Young Macnamara field trips because the information shared is easier for me to retain because it’s brought down a notch…if you know what I mean.   

A hearty thank you to both Alicia and Art for leading the Butterfly Bonanza expedition.  

Suzanne Monnon