Dr. Free-Ride: (sidling up to the younger offspring this morning with tape-recorder in hand) Hey, can I ask you about —
Younger offspring: I don’t remember them.
Dr. Free-Ride: Huh?
Younger offspring: I don’t remember the words to the brontosaurus song, and David won’t sing it for me anymore because we’re done studying dinosaurs. You’ll have to blog about something else.
Dr. Free-Ride: Have you been reading the notes on my computer?
Younger offspring: (innocently) I don’t know how to read.
Dr. Free-Ride: So you keep telling me.
Elder offspring: These butterfly books Super Sally sent [for younger offspring's birthday] are really cool.
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, finally it’s nice enough that we can spend more time outside actually watching butterflies.
Elder offspring: When the garden beds are set up, can we plant carrots?
Dr. Free-Ride: Sure. Carrots would be yummy.
Elder offspring: There’s this one butterfly [Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes) whose caterpillar eats carrot plants.
Dr. Free-Ride: You know, I was kind of planning to grow carrots for us to eat.
Elder offspring: I like eating carrots, but I really want to attract some caterpillars so I can study them.
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. You value knowledge more than home-grown vegetables.
Elder offspring: Yup. But maybe I can plant some carrots to give to the caterpillars and you can plant some carrots to eat.
Dr. Free-Ride: You think the hungry caterpillars will be able to tell them apart?
Elder offspring: (sighing) Probably not. Hey, can I tell you why Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat milkweed?
Dr. Free-Ride: Sure.
Elder offspring: The milkweed plant has stuff in it that doesn’t hurt the Monarch. But, that stuff makes the Monarch poisonous to other creatures that might try to eat it.
Dr. Free-Ride: That’s pretty clever.
Elder offspring: Yup.
Dr. Free-Ride: Hey, how are the silkworms in the science classroom doing?
Elder offspring: They’re still happy munching their mulberry leaves.
Dr. Free-Ride: I guess at some point they turn into butterflies or moths too, right?
Elder offspring: Yeah, moths, but I think they’re flightless.
Dr. Free-Ride: So they’re like the penguins of the moth world.
Elder offspring: I don’t think they swim.
Dr. Free-Ride: The ostriches?
Elder offspring: They’re not the biggest.
Dr. Free-Ride: The kiwis?
Elder offspring: Close enough.
* * * * *
The Sprogs Recommend:
Butterflies by Emily Neye, Illustrated by Ron Broda.
A fine introduction to the basics of the butterfly lifecycle, with some tips for telling butterflies and moths apart.
The Butterfly Book: A Kid’s Guide to Attracting, Raising, and Keeping Butterflies by Kersten Hamilton.
This is a nice book for kids who don’t just want to read about the critters but would like to watch them. Some of the traps and cages described here might possibly be adapted for catching and keeping younger siblings …
DK Pockets Butterflies & Moths by Barbara Taylor.
For the kid who’s into handbooks. Packed with beautiful color photos, descriptions of the lepidotera sorted by habitat, Linnaean classification, a glossary, and more.