Skip to content

Painted lady butterflies are in the news this week. First of all, they are migrating in huge numbers in southern California.

Check out short video of the butterflies streaming across a field by South Coast research. Amazing!

The numbers of painted ladies are higher this year because of seasonal rains that caused a flush of their food plants. Here in Arizona we have seen smaller numbers of painted ladies migrating in both February and fall (links to previous posts).

If you'd like to see how to identify these butterflies, learn more about their migrations, and/or participate in a citizen science project, visit the Red Admiral and Painted Lady Research Site at Iowa State University

With perfect timing the fabulous new picture book that showcases the life cycle of painted ladies for the youngest readers, Butterflies in Room 6: See How They Grow by Caroline Arnold, also emerged on March 12, 2019.

Follow along with the children in Mrs. Best's kindergarten class as they hatch painted lady caterpillars from eggs, feed the caterpillars a special diet, and wait patiently for the butterflies to emerge from their chrysalids. As you can see from the book cover, nothing is as mesmerizing as a freshly-eclosed live butterfly!

Caroline Arnold is both the author and photographer for the book and she has captured some fun and incredible images of both the insects and the children. Her 2017 book with a similar format, Hatching Chicks in Room 6, was a winner of the Cybils Award for Elementary Nonfiction.

Back matter includes answers to questions about butterflies, a vocabulary list, links to butterfly information online and suggestions for further reading about butterflies.

Butterflies in Room 6 is a must have to accompany a unit on insects or project raising painted lady butterflies. Fly out and get a copy today!

Related Activities:

1. Explore butterfly and moth metamorphosis.

A painted lady butterfly undergoes a number of changes during its lifetime, from egg to larva to pupa to adult.

You can see the process in this time lapse of caterpillars raised in the classroom. The brown mixture is the artificial diet they use as food.

Why do you think the painted lady caterpillars are so spiky?

This is a painted lady caterpillar on a hollyhock leaf.

Models of Painted Lady Butterfly Life Stages

Create a poster of a butterfly or moth life cycle

Gather:

  • Poster board, construction or craft paper
  • Crayons, markers and/or colored pencils
  • Yarn (optional)
  • Age-appropriate scissors
  • Glue, tape
  • Photographs or clip art of caterpillars, butterflies and moths

Choose a particular butterfly or moth and learn about what each stage looks like in its life cycle. Gather images. Plan where each stage should go in the cycle:  egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis or cocoon, and adult butterfly or moth. Leave room for a title at the top. Either draw each of the stages, or cut out photographs and paste or tape them on. Draw arrows between the stages or connect them with yarn. Put on a title and display the poster. Tell others about what you have learned.

2. Plant a butterfly garden

Start with Butterfly Gardening with Children which has links to a week of butterfly gardening posts, including Five great nectar plants for butterflies

If you'd like to encourage painted ladies, grow plants their larvae prefer. Painted lady caterpillars will eat a variety of weeds like thistles, but also some cultivated plants or wildflowers like sunflowers, mallows, including hollyhocks, yarrow, and ironweeds (Vernonia sp.) Check with your local butterfly societies for local native plants to grow.

Butterflies Book info:
Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (March 12, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898947
ISBN-13: 978-1580898942

Want to read more? See our growing list of children's books about butterflies and moths at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided for review by the publisher. 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 starts next weekend. It is a family-friendly citizen science event, and a longtime favorite of ours. Birders -- novice and experienced alike -- identify and count birds, then report their findings using eBird (instructions are on the website). This gives ornithologists a "snapshot" of where birds are around the world.

To get inspired, you might want to pick up one of bird lover and author Sneed B. Collard III's wonderful books about birds (Follow links to my reviews)

Plus, visit his, Father-Son Birding blog.

To keep interest high, after the event keep a look out for Sneed B. Collard III's new book Birds of Every Color with his son, Braden Collard. It is coming out in March, just in time for spring migration birding.

 

Right up front, this isn't a concept book about colors. Instead, it delves deeply into the whys and hows of the fascinating array of bird feather hues.

For example, one page explains how birds get certain pigments from the food they eat and another explains about melanins, brown and black pigments that birds and other animals manufacture internally. Ever hear of psittacofulvins? You'll find out about those, too.

 

Public domain photograph of a male cardinal from Publicdomainpictures

Look closely and you will see bird colors may be different from place to place, season to season, and even between individual birds. Did you know that the extensiveness of the black bib of house sparrows. and the black and white patches on the heads of chickadees reflect their status in the flock?

The backmatter contains a two-page spread with twelve photographs of different bird species and challenges the reader to figure out how many different colors each has. Also included is a glossary of "Colorful Words," plus "About the Author." On the next page we learn "About the Photographs," which were taken by either Sneed or his son, Braden. Cool!

Birds of Every Color will enthrall budding ornithologists and nature lovers in general. Look for a copy next month or pre-order it now.

Related:

Age Range: 5 - 10 years
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (March 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1732875308
ISBN-13: 978-1732875302

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.

For STEM Friday we have one of the fabulous books nominated for a Cybils Award.

Our choice is a middle grade title from the always high quality Scientists in the Field Series, The Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop.

I have to admit that I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book about hyenas. After all, they have a bad reputation, as the authors say, "widely considered to be dirty, ugly, and mean." The fact the book was one of the Scientists in the Field series, however, convinced me to give it a try (well, that and it was nominated).  I'm glad I did.

It turns out that I knew very little about hyenas. Given their appearance, most people assume they are related to dogs. On the first page we learn that in fact they are more closely related to cats than dogs, and most closely related to mongooses. Mongooses?!

How many other common perceptions of them are wrong? A lot.

They are scavengers that slink around stealing prey from lions, right? Turns out that although hyenas do scavenge a bit, they are smart and formidable hunters. With careful observations, the featured scientist Kay Holekamp discovered that in fact lions steal prey from hyenas more often than the other way around.

Rather than give away all the surprises in the book, let's just say your impression of hyenas will likely change after you read it. In fact, you just might want to go study them yourself.

And if you decide to do that, this book will show you what it might be like. As with the other books in the series, the scientists are at the center. We learn about how Kay Holecamp and her assistants came to study hyenas and how they go about it. For example, on pages 18-19 is the inspiring story of Dee. It turned out many years ago Dee worked at the Saint Louis Zoo and took on Kay as a student volunteer. Kay went off to school and Dee eventually went to another job because at the time women were only allowed to hold limited positions at zoos. However, Dee always loved animals and dreamed of going to Africa. Years later, at the age of sixty-nine she reconnected with Kay and her dreams came true. She now helps Kay at her field site. What an inspiring story.

I should also mention Nic Bishop's fabulous photographs. I have been a long time fan, and I think his work is just getting better and better.

As you can tell, I really like this book. For readers interested in biology or what it takes to be a field biologists, The Hyena Scientist is a treasure trove. Delve into a copy today.

One final note:  as a middle grade title, this really is for older readers. Being about the biology of one of Africa's top predators, there are some mature themes and graphic photographs.

Related:

Younger children can learn more about the spotted hyena at National Geographic Kids.

Although this video should come with a strong "don't try this at home" warning, this video about a family that feed hyenas in Ethiopian city of Harar. They have developed an understanding of hyenas is quite fascinating. At the end are some shots of the area during the day. Click through to YouTube to see a detailed explanation of what you are seeing (in English).

See how big some of the animals are? Can you hear the men whistling to communicate to the hyenas? Hyenas are social creatures. Can you spot any social interactions?

Why do you think it is filmed at night?

Age Range: 10 - 12 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 15, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0544635116
ISBN-13: 978-0544635111

Interested in learning more about scientists? Check out the books in our growing list of Scientists in the Field books 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.