Category Archives: Nature: plant and animal identification

Firefly Lanterns Powered By Bioluminescence: Made From Glass Juice Bottles and Salvaged Wire

Catching fireflies is the quintessential children’s summer evening activity. Every new generation is captivated by these magical blinking moving lights and instinctively wants to know the source.
Make one today or If you are having a summer party that will continue after dark, make a bunch for your young guests.

How to make a firefly lantern:

Save your empty glass juice bottles. Take off the label and clean it.
Use scrap electrical wire to make the handle for your lantern; you will need a piece about 30 inches long. We had some pieces left over from an addition to our house. You might try calling an electrician in your area; maybe they could give you some scraps that would otherwise just go in the dumpster. How-to make the handle:

1. Start on one side of the lamp (point A), go half way around (point B).
2. At point B, bend the wire up for the handle. After you form the loop for the handle, you should end up on the other side of the bottle (point A; where you started).
3. At point A, bend the wire end around the handle loop to secure it.
4. The wire will continue around the neck of the bottle and attach at point B. Use wire cutters to trim off extra wire.

It is a lot easier done than said.

You will want to cover the top of the bottle to prevent the fireflies from prematurely escaping. You could put holes in the cap and use that. Or trace a large cup on a scrap piece of fabric and cut out with pinking shears if you have them. That circle of fabric is held in place with an elastic band. I have a little stash of elastic bands that came off of vegetables or other packaging. You will find a second use for them in projects like this and many others.

Did you know that there are thousands of different species of fireflies? Fireflies blink to attract a mate but some mimic the blinking pattern of a different species of firefly in order to lure them near so they can eat them. Yikes!

Did you know that Fireflies produce light via a chemical reaction?

Find out more about fireflies at The Firefly Files or National Geographic.

Have any other bright ideas or a clever variation? Send me an e-mail and I will pass on your great ideas.
Are any of the directions unclear? If you have any questions about this project or any other, send me an e-mail. -Jane

Easy To Make Natural Bird Feeders

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These pine-cone bird feeders are a classic. My family enjoys making them year after year.

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Although it has a bean-like fruit, the Trumpet-Creeper is a member of the Bignonia family.

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The Sweetgum tree is found predominantly in the South-Eastern United States.

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When it is cold outside, my family likes to make these beautiful bird feeders. We make many different types and “decorate” a tree for the birds. We picked an evergreen tree that we can see from inside our cozy house. It is fun to watch and see what birds find our treats. This is a good time to learn the names of the visiting birds. They especially appreciate it when there is snow covering the ground. Sometimes when we are done with our Christmas tree (real not artificial), we place it on our porch to decorate for a second time around.

How-2: Gather your pine cones and seedpods. I like to use a variety of sizes. Spread shortening, lard, suet, or peanut butter all over the pine cones, around the Sweetgum pods and inside the Trumpet-Creeper pod. Next sprinkle with one or more of the following: oatmeal, cornmeal, birdseeds, sunflower seeds, and millet. Mix and match to please a variety of taste buds. If you really want to treat your feathered visitors, add small pieces of dried fruit.