Author Archives: jane

MYO Butterfly Metamorphosis Observatory Out Of A Cardboard Box

Fill the holes with screen. If you are lucky you will have some screen salvaged from a screen door or window. You could buy screen new but why? It is better to make use of something on its way to a landfill.metamorphosis observatory

You can easily make a beautiful Metamorphosis Observatory. It’s a safe place to care for a caterpillar and a great way for you to watch their amazing transformation. I made this one many years ago and it has fostered lots of caterpillars over the years.

black swallowtail butterfly

How to:
Find a cardboard box. I think I used the box my blender came in. Use a ruler to mark a border around all the edges. I used the width of the ruler Instead of doing a lot of measuring.
Use a box cutter or exacto knife (careful!) to make a hole in four sides (not the top and bottom).
Find butterfly and flower pictures from last year’s seed catalogs or unwanted magazines etc…
Paste on pictures coving the whole exterior of the box.
I applied varnish (optional) on the inside and the outside of the box so it would last longer.

Fill the holes with screen. If you are lucky you will have some screen salvaged from a screen door or window. You could buy screen new but why? It is better to make use of something on its way to a landfill.

When you find an interesting caterpillar chomping on a plant, put it along with some of the plant, into the Metamorphosis Observatory. To keep the plant fresher, put the stems into a container of water. Replace the plant until the caterpillar is satisfied and begins its transformation. We found that it was necessary to cover the water with plastic to keep the wondering caterpillars safe.
Or place the branch with a found chrysalis on it into the box.
Once your caterpillar have come out of its chrysalis, give it time and space to let its wings expand and then be sure to let it go. This box was not meant to house the butterfly.

Swallowtail butterfly on child's arm
She’s full of wonder.

monarch butterfly emerges
A monarch emerges from its chrysalis.

For the Love of Butterflies: Plant Butterfly Weed

butterfly weed plant

This North American native is a wonderful source of nectar used by many butterflies. Butterfly weed is one of several species of flowers that we grow around our house to attract a myriad of butterflies.

To attract butterflies to our southern Maryland yard, we have included food for both stages of a butterfly’s life: the butterfly as well as the caterpillar. When you plant a butterfly weed you have done both. Plus, the strong orange flowers will give a festive touch to the outside extension of your home.
How to:
My girls scattered some butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberose) seeds in their garden. The seeds were a gift from a thoughtful friend. You will want to plant your seeds in a location that receives full sun. They prefer dry, sandy soil. It turned out to be easy to grow; just keep the seedlings moist. The older plants are much more tolerant of dry conditions. You can plant your seeds in late spring, summer or early fall. Either way, plan to wait until next summer for flowers. Seeds need a cold treatment before germinating. This can be done by either planting outside in the fall, or placing the seeds in the freezer for a few weeks before planting. New plants are also fairly easy to start from cuttings. Our plants have come up each year with no effort on our part and provide butterfly alluring powers. They flower all summer long and in the fall they have cool seed pods with fluff inside.
If you are a southern Maryland local (i.e. you live close enough that you can stop by), I’d be happy to save you some seeds. If collecting your own seeds, wait until the pods are already starting to open.
FYI, avoid pesticides because they kill butterfly larvae.

monarch butterfly caterpillar

Butterfly Weed, a species of milkweed, is a host plant for Monarch Butterflies as well as others.
This is the monarch butterfly in its larval stage completely devouring several of our butterfly weed plants.

Plant a Strawberry Patch: Decreasing The Size Of Your Lawn Is Eco-friendly

child strawberry picker

In an area that used to be part of our lawn, I made a garden for my two children. They have used it to grow edibles and things of beauty. This spring/ summer they decided to let the strawberry plants take over most of the growing space. Apparently you can be very tidy with your strawberries and snip off all the runners or you can let the runners do as they will. We like the second method; in which you end up with a beautiful mat of strawberry plants. My kids try to be the first each day to search for the sweet bounty. Growing a strawberry patch in place of some of your yard is twice as sweet: less lawn to mow and fresh local organic fruit besides.

strawberry patch

Here is the kids’ garden.

Unusual Cake Stand: Robot Party Style

home-made industrial looking cake stand

What kind of cake stand do you use at a robot party? Something made from salvaged parts,… something creative…
Every party needs food so I provided our guests with robot fuel; ie cake on this industrial looking cake stand.
I combined three thrift store finds; a silver platter (silver in color, it may be silver plated, it doesn’t matter), a glass cake stand cover that lost its bottom half, and a piece of an old aluminum coffee pot (the part that was used to filter the grinds).
I glued the platter to the coffee pot piece I chose for the stand.
You could substitute anything that is metal or looks metal. Another idea is to use a large tomato can.

Can Koala Craft

cute can koala craft

Here is a cute koala; he is one of the robot animals I made for my daughter’s robot party. So cute you can’t help but love him. And of course, I used recycled materials.

can koala head

How to:
Gather supplies. Supplies are as follows: large soup or tomato can (for the body), tuna or cat food can (for the head), bottle caps (for eyes) with washers inside, part of an imitation flower cut in half, the part that holds the petals (for the two ears), thrift store flatware (for the arms/paws), a broken tea infuser (painted black or colored with a Sharpie (for the nose), scrap white paper (for the chin patch), the top/ bottom of a cylinder such as found on tubes of frozen juice (for the belly spot).
Glue together everything except the arms and legs and the head. I like using a magnet to connect the head to the body. In this case the magnet doubles as the neck. I also used magnets on the legs/ arms and neck because a magnet allows me to change his pose.

koala paws

Experiment with forks and spoons to see what you like best. You will need to bend the flatware a little to curve around the can. An adult might be needed.

You may be interested in more robot themed ideas.
Robot costume

Build a Bot: Robot Building Party Favor Game