Friday, October 11, 2013

Insects In Our Yard

And I am sure that Einstein was/is right. But I would sure like to learn a little of what insects have to teach.

This has been insect month at our home.

It all started with our Gulf Fritillaries. One day, 15 of them emerged from their chrysalids!
emerging Gulf Fritillaries

emerging Gulf Fritillaries from the same day

beautiful emerging Gulf Fritillary with the probiscis clearly seen
dry and ready for life as a butterfly. A newly emerged Gulf Fritillary
nectars on Porterweed. 

Since then, we have been looking for insects in our yard. We have some goldenrod blooming in the back of our yard, so we have gone out every day to investigate the insects on it. And there have been a wide variety of native bees, flies, and wasps. They are really hard to photograph! The goldenrod moves. The insects move. And none of them like having the cameras right in their faces.

But it has been amazing to watch! Such diversity! Such a wonderful feeling of ecosystem!

We decided to paint concrete stepping stones with the 4 stages of a butterfly development.

We also got to see a praying mantis this month. It is the first time we have ever seen one at this house! It was pretty exciting.

Then, in what I think is the coup de gras, we had our first ever pipe vine swallowtail. It stayed for almost an hour nectaring at our Porterweed.
Pipe Vine Swallowtail at the Porterweed

My middle daughter was able to touch it gently without it even moving.

The youngest had to try it, too. Same result. 

Another view of the Pipe Vine Swallowtail
And, as if that wasn't enough, we saw 2 hummingbird moths on the night of the tenth of October. One of them was kind enough to land so we could get a photo. I had read that these moths look like hummingbirds in flight and that they sound like hummingbirds when they buzz by you. Well, they really did. Totally awesome! They are smaller than any hummingbirds we get around here, and they hang around the nectar plants much longer than any of the hummingbirds we have ever seen, too. So these two things, plus the fact that they nectar at dusk and during the night, help us distinguish them from hummingbirds.

hummingbird moth
We also read a great read aloud book that really helped us with Latin order of different insects, why they are classified that way and what the Latin means. It was very simply explained and for the first time I found myself interested in the different orders.

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I am submitting this entry for the Outdoor Hour Challenge with Barb of Handbook of Nature Study.

Monday, September 23, 2013

At the Beach

I saved Barb's Handbook of Nature Study newsletter from 6/1/2012. It covered ways to do nature study at the beach.

I never had a chance to use it until this September. We took a vacation to the beach. I used almost all the ideas I got from that newsletter, but I would only like to share with you one small aspect of the trip.

On the grid, one of the suggestions was to list 3 living creatures you saw at the beach. We made a list of living creatures we saw during our week long vacation.

Hermit Crab

Tiny Frog

Willet(?) I searched Google and that seems to be what
this is. He was very near us, used to people. 



The first time for us to spot a tricolored heron. Great blue herons
are very common around here, even flying over the house from time to time, but
this one is different. It was an exciting find!
The skink was found during a hike in a nearby National Wildlife Refuge we had decided to visit since we have so much fun hiking locally.

I found it very exciting to identify 3 new birds. They are probably common birds, but they were new to us.

We also saw 2 dolphins breaching the water parallel to the shoreline. I was unable to get a photo.

I am submitting this to the Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Night Sky Study for Outdoor Hour Challenge

Barb at Handbook of Nature Study blog challenged us to study the night sky with our children during the month of August.

My children and I made a point to go outside every clear night to look at the moon. We have done this before, but we always find it to be fun.

I subscribe to a local weather man's Facebook page. He regularly posts great things about nature, weather, and the night sky. He posted this at the first of the month.
We had just returned home from an outing about that time, so I took my older two children out back to look for it. It was spectacular! It streamed across the sky pretty quickly and you could see it become less round as the earth blocked the light from it. Then it suddenly disappeared from sight.

Another fun thing we did this month was the Oreo Moon Study. We have done this before, but it was such a hit the first time that the kids begged to do it again since we were studying the moon any way.

We also took Barb's advice (in the link, scroll down near the bottom and look for NASA) and watched the NASA video she recommends. Then we re-created the experiment. The kids had a great time with it, but it is really messy, so doing it outside helped.

It is amazing how examining one aspect of nature brings into focus many other aspects of nature. By trying to study how the craters of the moon were made, we examined our rock collection again. While we were outside, we ended up seeing swallowtail butterflies. Everything is connected. Amazing.
Our rock collection. (We used this to do our experiment about moon craters.)

Here's a crater we created, and the rock bounced completely out. We were able to see the rays pretty clearly at first. 

A close up of the "crater" we created. You can see the different strata of rock
(indicated by the jimmies). 

The kids loved this activity. They did it over and over, using all the
rocks we had. Then they would flatten the surface and do it again. It was
wildly successful. 
Overall, it was a great month studying the night sky.

****article edited to add the information about the moon crater experiment.****

I am submitting this article for the

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Nature Scavenger Hunt 2013

My children and I have been enjoying the Summer Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt  that Debi started on her blog.

We haven't found everything yet, but here are some photos from what we have found.

Bug--My daughter was able to convince this dragonfly
to land on her hand several times the day we took this picture. 

Berries--blueberries from the neighbor's yard.

Butterfly--a skipper on the side of the house. 


Wild flowers--Trumpet vines. Very attractive to hummingbirds. 

Tree bark. The ancient pear tree in our back yard. 

Something Prickly.

Thank you, Debi, for starting this Summer Nature Scavenger Hunt. We plan to find other things on the list and are really enjoying ourselves.