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It is common to find caterpillars in Arizona this time of year, but during a recent trip to Pennsylvania and New York State I was surprised to find both moth and butterfly caterpillars active in late October.

My sister still had lovely kale plants in her garden, as well as a caterpillar or two.

These are the larvae of the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae.

The butterflies were also flitting about. My sister didn't need to worry about this one, though. It is a male. I can tell because it has a single dot of black in the middle of each forewing. The females have two dots.

 

It isn't quite so unusual to see goldenrod in bloom.

If you know where to look, you can also see a caterpillar.

If if it finishes developing in time, this caterpillar will likely become a moth.

Want to learn more? Try some of our Moth Blog Posts at Growing With Science:

 

Perhaps I should have named it caterpillar week!

Related posts for Moth Week:

 

Excited about pollinators? Then it's time to get prepared:

National Pollinator Week is coming up June 17-23, 2019. If you'd like to participate, visit the website. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for activities and fact sheets to download.

Suggested pollinator activity:  Read the children's picture book Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara C. Levine and illustrated by Masha D'yans.

Narrated by the snarky purple cactus you see on the cover, Flower Talk explores why plants "talk" to animals via their flowers and how they entice the animals to carry their pollen from place to place.

After establishing why plants need animals to help them,

"What would you do if your legs were stuck in the ground for your entire life?"

Levine goes into details about how the different flower colors attract different kinds of pollinators. She also notes that plants with green flowers, like grasses, "aren't talking to anyone." They are wind pollinated.

Masha D'yans' amazing digitally-enhanced watercolor illustrations add just the right amount of fun to keep kids entranced.

Although the text has humorous fictional touches, the extensive back matter is serious. "More About Pollinators" has detailed scientific illustrations of flower parts and explains all the nuts-and-bolts of how pollination works. Other sections cover how to help protect pollinators and where to find out more about plants and pollinators.

Flower Talk is perfect for kids who love fiction as well as for kids who prefer nonfiction. Pick up a copy and find out what the "talk" is all about.

Age Range: 7 - 11 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (March 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1541519280
ISBN-13: 978-1541519282

See our growing list of children's books about pollination.

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.

If you are interested in plants and you get the opportunity, visit the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Dallas, Texas. I visited last weekend and it was gorgeous.

It was also a great opportunity to study insects as well as plants.

Take this painted lady butterfly. It is feeding on the nectar from a zinnia. Butterflies are attracted to flowers with a wide, flat place to perch.

This butterfly is sitting on the petals of a coreopsis or tickseed flower in a similar way.

Do you recognize it? It is a variegated fritillary. The larvae feed on passion flowers and also purslane, both of which were growing in the gardens.

Having a diverse collection of plants increases the likelihood a butterfly will find the right ones to complete its life cycle.

Here a duskywing skipper is resting on a columbine leaf. If this is a wild indigo duskywing, it's larvae feed on wild indigo and lupines. Lupines were growing in the rock garden nearby.

The plants do not need to be unusual. Even common ornamentals like this old-fashioned rose can support insects.

We found this honey bee in the children's gardens, gathering nectar from a cilantro plant that had been allowed to flower. Growing herbs is a good way to support pollinators.

From the plant's perspective, a diversity of local pollinators like this flower fly can also ensure that a plant is properly pollinated.

Plants and insects go together, so growing a variety of plants in a garden is win-win.

Have you ever been to the Dallas Arboretum?