Welcome to Day 16 of the #30DaysWild Challenge with Essex Wildlife Trust!
As always we would love to hear your wild stories or see your wild photographs, even if they are not task related, we will select some of these to feature in the wild stories section of this blog. You can send these to us via Facebook or email.
Today’s task is:
Go on a Butterfly Hunt
Moths and butterflies are synonymous with Harlow’s public houses, the majority of those built with the new town hold the name of butterflies or moths. So for our wildlings in this area, you hold the advantage of already knowing some unique butterfly and moth names and markings. For those outside of the area here are a few of their signs:
Now we have some (very brief) history of Harlow and butterflies/moths let’s go find some! The nature detectives have provided us with a beautiful butterfly hunt checklist, there are two blank spaces for you to draw in any new butterflies you find:
The Butterfly life cycle
Butterflies must complete four stages of metamorphosis to become a butterfly, depending on the breed of butterfly this transition can take anywhere between a month and a whole year!
These stages are; egg, larva, pupa and adult.
- The egg stage- Butterflies start life as very small eggs, they can be round, oval or cylindrical and although can appear to have colour if you look very closely you can see the tiny caterpillar growing inside (this is particularly true for monarch butterfly eggs). Eggs are usually laid on plant leaves so can be quite hard to find.
- The larva (caterpillar) stage – Butterfly larvae is what we commonly know as a caterpillar, they start life very small and spend the short time of this stage eating to grow. I am sure most people are familiar with the very hungry caterpillar, this is the hungry stage.
- The pupa (chrysalis) stage – This stage is where the metamorphosis happens, for the most part, the caterpillar can look to be resting until sleeve forms around them creating a chrysalis. Outside looks boring, admittedly, but inside there is so much cool stuff going on! Tissue, limbs and organs of a Caterpillar have all been changed by the time the pupa is finished and is now ready for the final stage of a butterfly’s life cycle.
- The adult (butterfly) stage – When the butterfly first emerges from the pupa its wings are soft and folded against its body. It will take some time to rest, the blood will pump through its new limbs (wings). Butterflies usually master the art of flying within 3-4 hours and then begin looking for a mate to restart the life cycle with their offspring.
Here is a worksheet for you to draw and explain the lifecycle:
Butterfly anatomy and senses
Here is a labelled diagram of the key parts of a butterfly, these are key to butterfly senses. A printable version for you to keep and colour in can be found here: butterfly.
- The two antennae are not used to help the butterfly see but are actually there for the butterfly to smell.
- Butterflies see in colour, this allows them to have better depth perception.
- The butterfly has four wings, not two! Each side is made up of a front and back wing.
- The proboscis is the butterfly’s tongue and is used to drink nectar.
- The butterfly does not use its tongue to taste instead uses its six legs!
If you are feeling extra crafty here is link to some butterfly-templates for you to cut out your own butterflies with. Using some scissors (safely and with an adult) cut around your chosen butterfly shape, either colour them in and attach some string to hang or place them on a piece of patterned cloth and use as a template to make many butterflies to hang!