A beginner’s notes from the Annual Butterfly Walk

post by Kir Talmage, Museum Program Coordinator

I’ve just come back from the Annual VES Butterfly Walk.  Thank you so much to Bryan Pfeiffer, Trish Hanson and many others for sharing their knowledge! We had about 35 guests or so on the walk, ranging from young kids to grandparents, new explorers to professional (and retired) entomologists.  I’m a new explorer, practically a rank beginner with bugs.  I love it.

You’ll no doubt get much more by coming on a walk, going outside, and paging through field guides. I went out with my  just my notebook and camera, though. So, from my notes:

Grandfather and grandchild exploring for butterflies
Grandfather and grandchild exploring for butterflies on today's VES Butterfly Walk

About observing tools: Water nets and butterfly nets are not the same. A butterfly net (for field insects, etc.) is longer, cone-shaped, and of a very fine soft mesh. The longer shape (compared a vaguely trapezoidal water net) allows one to “flip” the net closed, so the insect won’t escape while you are examining it. That’s less of an issue with a water net; water beetles and dragonfly nymphs aren’t so likely to fly off.

About Butterflies: Lepidoptera — the order that contains butterflies — means “scale(d) wing”, for the thousands of tiny, often iridescent scales that cover the wings.  We found a clouded sulphur female (Colias philodice). One way (of  several) to tell this was a female was because she had spots in the dark margin of her upper wing.

Canada Darner (Aeshna canadensis) on child's hand
Canada Darner (Aeshna canadensis) on child's hand. This one is an "old lady" -- about a month or so!

About Dragonflies and Damselflies: When identifying them, look at where the color is on which segments of the abdomen — look very closely! Also look at the profile of the claspers at the end of the abdomen. The different shapes (hook, c-clamp, straight, knobby, etc.) helped in identification.

About Daddy-long-legs:  I had never noticed how the mouth parts fold so neatly, making such a even oval profile of their bodies. Lovely.

Here’s a cool online resource I just found too, for comparing multiple pictures of butterflies (and others): http://www.discoverlife.org/20/q?guide=Butterflies What are your favorite online resources for Insects and Arachnids?

Young Entomologist
Young Entomologist on the VES Annual Butterfly Walk

Footprints and more: Tracking Workshop, February 27

Small mammal tracks with keys for scale
The size of a track matters, but you don't always have a ruler.

On Saturday, February 27th, the Museum is hosting a Tracking Workshop from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. with Mike Kessler of UVM. Join us to find out what non-bird animals live in our backyard. Elements of nature observation will be covered. Please dress to be outside; snowshoes are encouraged if we get snow. Suggested donation: $5. Feel free to call with any questions. Appropriate for older kids and adults.

2010 Annual Art Contest Open

Enter your bird art in the Birds of Vermont Museum 2010 Art Contest.

Art Contest Rules for 2010

  1. This competition is open to persons aged 0 – 18 years old
  2. The theme of the contest is Birds, Birds, Birds!
  3. Entries on paper must be no larger than 8 1/2 x 11″ , 3-D Art must be smaller than 6″ x 6″ x 8″.
  4. One entry per person   – name, age and contact information must be included with entry. Entries may be picked up at the Museum after Nov. 1, 2010.
  5. Contestants can use any medium – (paint, pencils, crayons, markers, clay, wood, papier-mache)
  6. Entries must be received no later than  September 30, 2010
  7. Please drop off, or mail, entries to Birds of Vermont Museum, 900 Sherman Hollow Road, Huntington, Vermont 05462
  8. All entries will be  displayed at the museum throughout the 2010 season, so enter early!

Judging

Entries will be grouped by age of contestants.

First, second, and honorable mention prizes will be awarded in each of the following groups:

  • 5 years and younger
  • 6 – 8 years
  • 9 – 13 years
  • 14 – 18 years
  • 3-D Art (multi-age)

Winning entries will be displayed on the BOVM website and/or our FaceBook page with the artists’  permission.

Winners will be announced at the Museum at the Fall Festival, October 9, 2010 (see more events on our calendar).

Thank You to our 2010 Sponsors

Guy’s Farm and Yard, Williston, Vermont
Artists’ Mediums, Williston, Vermont

Climbing the walls? Paint them instead!

Painting Party, February 27

We are looking for volunteers to help us paint the walls downstairs in the Museum. We’ll be painting from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Lunch will follow, 12:00 – 1:00, so please let us know if you will be coming.