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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Naturally Speaking About Butterflies

I visited the Daintree Rainforest in Northern Queensland, Australia in 2016, the oldest rainforest on the planet. What a treat for this author of RAINFORESTS An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9 !  

The Daintree is a tropical rainforest -- the perfect home to many butterflies. Visitors might spot the large, beautiful, green and black  Cairns Birdwing, the Cruiser Butterfly which has orange-yellow wings with a distinct pattern detailing on the edges, two varieties of Swallowtail, and one of my very favorites, the large, electric-blue Ulysses. All are amazing to see in the lush, green wilds of the rainforest. 

There are a few reasons why there are so many different species of butterflies in tropical rainforests. Once reason is that there are so many different micro-habitats, with their own micro-climates to support a variety of plants. There are butterfly species that live in the rainforest canopy, others that live in the sub-canopy, and still others that find their home among the plants in the understory. 

You might not live in the rainforest, but I bet you also have species of butterflies flitting around the plants on your rooftop garden, nearby park, or outside your front door.  

Years ago many people collected butterflies, but we know it is better to watch them fly in the wild and  serve out their role as important pollinators than capturing them for a collection. 

There are some things we can learn from observing butterflies in the wild.  I found a few of these on a sign in the rainforest: 
  1. Trust the future. 
  2. Embrace change.
  3. Put on your brightest color.
  4. Let your beauty show. 

Why not help the butterflies along in 2018 by planting your own butterfly garden. The winter is a perfect time for planning. 

Explore what native species of plants are appropriate for your local butterflies. You'll have to plant some that serve as food for hungry caterpillars and others that provide nectar for adults. You can plant your garden in a community garden, in your backyard, or in flower pots on a deck or balcony.  

Keep a journal where you can record the species that visit your garden. Draw pictures of the different varieties or take photos. It will be fun to look at each year as your garden matures and butterflies find it a perfect place to visit. 

Here are a few butterfly books you'll want to read: 

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