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While I was out for my morning walk, I found a caterpillar on the sidewalk.

The vibrant yellow lines on its back caught my eye. In the sun they look almost like gold leaf.

The larva was quite still, probably because it was in the 40s this morning.

It was still alive and began to crawl once I'd warmed it in my hand.

It is an armyworm, possibly a yellow-stiped armyworm given the yellow. If it completes its life cycle, it turn into an owlet moth (Family Noctuidae).

Armyworms get their name from the fact that they can migrate in large groups (armies). This one was a lone soldier.

Let’s explore another of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

Although it may seem like a weird to be thinking of seeds and seedlings, in Arizona we plant our fall gardens this month. For that reason, A Seed is the Start by Melissa Stewart is timely.

Although the word "start" in the title and the pictures of sunflowers germinating on the cover suggests this books is about plant life cycles, with exception of a corn kernel germinating on pages 4-5 and an apple seed growing on pages 30-31, this book is about much more. In fact it is mainly about seed dispersal. Whether it is by wind, water, or animal taxi, author Melissa Stewart reveals the many, many ways seeds get around.

The color photographs are high-quality, as you would expect from National Geographic. From flying dandelion seeds to floating cottonwood seeds, the photographs will attract the reader's attention.

A Seed is the Start is a lovely introduction to seeds and seed dispersal. Use it to sprout an interest in plants in a young reader today.

Activity Suggestions To Celebrate the Book:

1. Germinate a pumpkin seed.

Do you have some pumpkin seeds left over from Halloween or from Thanksgiving pies?

They can make an educational germination project.

Gather:
1. Pumpkin seeds (unsalted, raw)
2. Small containers - *see note
3. Potting soil

*Note:  Seeds may be started in almost any recycled container. Old milk cartons, newspaper pots, even empty egg shells can serve as containers. Put an opening in the bottom of the container for drainage and set it in a tray, and/or add some gravel or pebbles to cover the bottom.

Fill the containers with soil. Press one or two seed into the soil so covered slightly. Water until moist and keep watered regularly. Set in a sunny window.

If you prepare several sets, allow the children to carefully remove one or two of the seedlings from the soil over time. Discuss what they see, measure the stems and roots, and make drawings or take photographs to record the progress as the seed germinates and then the plant grows from day to day.

2. See our previous post for a fun quiz and seed dispersal activities.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (February 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426329776
ISBN-13: 978-1426329777

Check out our growing list of children's books about seeds at Science Books for Kids.

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

In the recent post about the insects visiting a Texas sage, one of the photographs showed an adult flower fly.

The adults are called flower or hover flies because they visit flowers for nectar. But where do they come from? This week we'll see more of the life cycle.

Here's an adult fly next to some aphids. What is it doing?

Because the adults drink nectar, it probably isn't eating the aphids.

There's a clue at the end of the abdomen, which the fly has stretched out and is pressing against the plant.

Have an idea now?

It is laying eggs.

The egg will hatch into a larva. We've seen those feeding on aphids in a previous post.

The next stage to capture is the pupa. Stay tuned!