This time of year we find ourselves enjoying fruit like only the summer provides. When we are done, we like to leave some for the butterflies. We learned this trick by accident years ago when my children were small. Our scraps brought unexpected visitors: butterflies of striking beauty.
We love to watch the butterflies that are attracted to rotting fruit.
Apparently when a piece of fruit begins to rot, some butterflies like to “drink up”. This viceroy butterfly uses its proboscis to suck up some of the watermelon’s sweet goodness.
I have many fun memories of butterfly watching with my kids. It will never get old. (This picture was taken years ago.)
I’m participating in a program called Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA). MARA is a project run by the Natural History Society of Maryland (NHSM) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR); it is a five-year (January 2010 -2014) atlas of the amphibians and reptiles of Maryland. Amphibians and reptiles are collectively known as “herpetofauna” or “herps.”
I’ve been learning my local herps in the last few years and I’ll share some pictures of herps that I find on my property or in my neighborhood.
Green frogs are sometimes confused with bull frogs. You can’t go by color because their color varies. Look for the prominent dorsolateral ridges that go down the back but not all the way.
Note the large external eardrum called a tympanum (the circle behind the eye).
This picture illustrates relative size.
I love its eyes!
P.S. I believe this is a female because she lacks a yellow throat and her tympanum is not larger than her eye.
I got the idea to make these thumb controlled pots from the pottery ones I’ve seen at Historic Williamsburg. The original earthenware “thumb pots” were used in 17th and 18th century English gardens. I reproduced this clever watering device using salvaged plastic bottles and jugs. It is ideal for watering delicate seedlings. I use this watering pot all the time now.
Find a suitable “pot.” I love using maple syrup containers but I was successful making other smaller pots with smaller plastic milk bottles. The smaller bottles are easier for children.
Drill a hole in the center of the cap of your container. I used a 7/32nd drill bit. Next, drill small holes in the bottom. I used a 1/16th drill bit. When using softer plastic containers, it is possible to poke holes instead of using a drill. Make sure the cap is on tight; otherwise the water will not stay inside.
How it works:
It works similar to holding your thumb over the top of a drinking straw.
1. To fill your thumb pot, place into a bucket of water. Do not cover the hole in the top.
2. Hold your finger over the hole in the cap to prevent water from escaping the bottom as you lift.
3. Continue to hold your thumb over the hole as you lift.
4. Take your thumb off the hole when you are ready to water your plants. Removing your thumb allows the water to gently stream out the holes on the bottom.
This is a craft that is good for large groups of kids like school classes because the mushroom trays can be saved by the parents and the overall project will be very inexpensive. The handle for your “basket” can be made with a lot of different materials but I like the natural ones best. The photos show a basket handle made with a twisted piece of drift wood. You can grow grass seeds or wheat grass berries.
I waited too long to take these pictures: the grass is getting too tall. When we are done enjoying our grass baskets, I let my chickens enjoy the greens ! No wasting.
Note: This project is meant to be a centerpiece and is not meant to be carried around by the handle.
I like growing wheat grass because it doesn’t take a huge amount of planning ahead. The plants will sprout in just a few days. When I grew the wheat grass in these mushroom trays, I soaked the seeds overnight and then put them on top of the potting soil, watered it, covered the tray with plastic for the first day or two and then watered only as needed. -Very easy child project.