Label: Butterflies

August 23, 2011

Well, it’s not officially Butterfly Day, but we have declared it here at SeymourSimon.com, because today is the publication day of his beautiful new book, BUTTERFLIES.

One of the reasons I love butterflies and moths so much is that, unlike other wild animals, you can see them right in your own yard, park, or vacant lot! Next time you head outside early in the morning, look and see if there is something that looks like a piece of dead leaf stuck to one of your window screens. If you look closely, you will probably discover it is a cleverly disguised, slumbering moth!

We have created lots of great support materials for BUTTERFLIES. Educators and parents can go to their section of the site and download a free Teacher Guide with lots of supplementary information and activities, as well as a guide to starting your own butterfly garden.

Kids - click here to download your own Butterfly Observation Log, and record your sightings like a real lepidopterologist (that’s a scientist who studies butterflies).

Seymour has also blogged a lot this year about butterflies, because as he often says, his "favorite animal" is whichever one he is writing about at the time! You can read all the butterfly posts here.

Celebrate "Butterfly Day" with us by getting outside and seeing these beautiful creatures for yourself!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animal Books, Butterflies, New Books, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 4, 2011

It is Monday, so it’s time for SUMMER VACATION SCIENCE!

I have been watching my morning glory vine (the kind that gets blue, trumpet-shaped flowers in September) gradually creep up the light pole in my front garden. Although it seems almost too delicate to survive, the vine is actually quite strong, clinging onto the wire through heavy rain and windstorms. 

 

This morning, when I went outside, I saw what I thought was a dead leaf clinging to my vine. I went over to remove it, only to discover that it was a moth! We searched online and discovered that it was a Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecatus). 

Click here to learn more about the butterflies and moths that you can observe right outside your door, and learn how to tell the difference.

Happy July 4th to all my American readers! 

 

 


 From now through Labor Day, we will publish various nature projects. The goal is to get kids outdoors, exploring and enjoying the world around them. Check back here throughout the summer for new installments of Summer Vacation Science.


 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 1, 2011

       

I was so excited to see my first big butterfly of the season in our garden. I took the photo while it was sunning itself on a bush. (Perhaps getting ready for the upcoming July 4th weekend celebrations?) It’s an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a common butterfly here in the northeast. You can usually easily identify it by its large size, black tiger stripes over yellow-tan color and blue/red spots near the tail. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Butterflies, Gardening   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 15, 2011

Back in April, Seymour wrote about his Earth Day pledges, and one of them was that we were going to build a garden that would be a butterfly habitat. We had a spot, under a big elm tree, that was completely overgrown with weeds.

 

  Two months, a lot of hard work and one terrible case of poison ivy later, we have a butterfly garden! Now, we just need to wait for it to stop raining, for the weather to get a bit warmer, and for our new seedlings to grow and flower. Hopefully, we will soon see many butterflies, moths and hummingbirds in this peaceful place.

 

 

Next week’s SUMMER VACATION SCIENCE unit will be about how to create your own butterfly garden. Be sure to check back here to learn more!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Butterflies, Gardening   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 4, 2011

Well, not exactly a REAL tiger! This beautiful moth that Liz spotted is a member of a large group of moths called TIGER MOTHS. Tiger moths (their common name) belong to a group of moths named Grammia, which have dark wings with white stripes and beautiful geometric patterns. Most of these moths have thick furry bodes. When these moths are not flying around, their wings are folded roof-like over their bodies, just as in this photo, which Liz took of a tiger moth on the deck of our country place. The larva (caterpillars) of these moths are called Wooly Bears.  

Any of my readers have photos of butterflies or moths that YOU took? Send them to me in an email and I’ll publish them on my blog for all your friends to see! And the best photos I get may receive a surprise in your mail this summer (I’ll notify you about that if you’re gonna get one).

 

Be sure to watch for my new book about BUTTERFLIES! It is being published at the end of August.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, Summer Vacation Science   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 23, 2011

Students in the Corpus Christi School system got a preview of Seymour Simon’s next book, BUTTERFLIES, when he visited their schools earlier this month.

 

Here is one of the fascinating facts Seymour shared about butterflies. Monarch butterflies start life as a beautiful, multicolored caterpillar (which is actually the insect’s larva). At least, it looks beautiful to us. To birds and other predators, the colors of this caterpillar say "Danger! Poison! Stay away!" The reason the larva is poison is that the monarch lays its eggs on the poisonous leaves of the milkweed plant. As the caterpillar eats the leaves, it is able to store the poison in its own body, therefore becoming poisonous to other creatures. Pretty good predator avoidance strategy, right?

Butterflies and moths exhibit some of the most interest camouflage coloring and behaviors in nature. Click here to read one of Seymour’s recent posts is about the Dead-Leaf butterfly, which uses another form of camouflage, called "mimicry."

In this photo from a story in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Seymour holds up a copy of the book, which will be published later this summer. You will be able to read more about this in BUTTERFLIES. The book is full of beautiful photographs and fascinating information about butterflies and moths. It will be in bookstores on August 23, 2011 (available for pre-order now on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

 

Caterpillar Photo:Mon@rch’s Nature Blog

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(18) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Butterflies, New Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 22, 2011

       

Since my new book (coming out in August) is BUTTERFLIES, I was very excited to be able to visit Aruba’s Butterfly Farm. It is a large garden, all enclosed by netting, with cocoons, caterpillars, and thousands of delicate butterflies from all over the world. Have you ever seen a black and white butterfly? This beauty is called a Rice Paper Butterfly (Idea leuconoe), and they were quite curious, fluttering around us the whole time that we were there.

Readers often ask me what my favorite animal is, and I always reply that it is whatever animal I am writing about at the moment. I do a lot of research when I am writing a book, and the more I learn, the more fascinated I become. So, my favorite animal at the moment is the butterfly, and it was SO exciting to be in this relatively small space and surrounded by fluttering creatures! 

The one on the right is called a Scarlet Swallowtail (Papilio Rumanzovia) - isn’t it beautiful? Any butterfly that has the two long, trailing pieces at the bottom of their wings is some kind of swallowtail.

Butterflies protect themselves from predators in many ways. For example, when it is a caterpillar, the Monarch butterfly eats a leaf that is poison to many animals. By storing the poison in its body, the adult Monarch butterfly is avoided by predators who would otherwise eat it. Other butterflies protect themselves through an amazing natural phenomenon called "mimicry" - they appear to be something else altogether, like a leaf, a stick, or a piece of bark. While we were there, my wife Liz shot a video of a Dead-Leaf butterfly. Click on this link to play the video and you will see exactly how mimicry works.

Dead-Leaf Butterfly Video.

The scientific name for the Dead-Leaf butterfly is Kallima inachus. Whomever gave this genus of tropical butterflies the name Kallima must have been looking at the topside of the wings, since it comes from the Greek word for "beautiful"!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Butterflies, Seymour Photographs, Video   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 7, 2010

I surprised myself with the answer to a question I was asked at a recent conference. The question was: What is your favorite animal? My initial instinct was to say that it’s impossible to say which is my favorite animal…..it’s like having favorites among your own children.

Then I realized, to my surprise, that I do have a current favorite animal. It’s the BUTTERFLY! And why are butterflies my favorite? Because I’m writing a new book on butterflies. The manuscript is finished, I’m now researching the accompanying photos, and the book will come out early in 2011 as part of my Collins/Smithsonian series. My editors really pushed me to write about butterflies, and I must confess that at first I resisted. But, as I started to learn about them I became fascinated by these gorgeous creatures that children can observe in the wild, right in their own neighborhoods.

So I suppose the answer to the question regarding "what is my favorite animal" depends on what I am writing at the time. The truth is, the more I learn about a particular species, the more interested I become. That’s the fun of being a science author and also a science reader- constant exploration!

                                                                                   —-Seymour

   

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, New Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 25, 2010

We received an interesting letter today from Sharl Heller, who works with her husband, Dr. Eric Heller, on his art. You may have seen some of it several months ago on this blog, where we used one of his spectacularly beautiful images in a post explaining Rogue Waves and why they happen.


Ms. Heller wrote:


Since reading the Seymour Science blog,  ART & SCIENCE: "Working Together to Explain Rogue Waves", based on my husband Eric Heller’s work,  I have been enjoying Dr. Simon’s website and your postings. I am delighted to see so many interesting topics explained in a way that makes complicated issues accessible to non scientists and children.  Besides helping my husband with his artwork, I am working locally to raise awareness about global climate change, encouraging the people in our area to replace their landscaping with native plants to help mitigate global climate change and maintain biodiversity. In searching Seymour’s website I was very pleased to see that you are researching a new book on butterflies. The page mentions planting milkweed to sustain monarch butterflies, so I know you will be promoting the idea that people should plant native plants that support wildlife. I believe your book will be very important and useful to those of us who think we must all do whatever we can to mitigate global climate change. Thank you for including my husband on your blog. I look forward to your new book and the new blogs.
 
In fact, we’re going to be doing a whole series of posts this spring and summer about sustainable gardening, both as a nurturing family activity and as a way for individuals to move the needle when it comes to reducing their own carbon footprints and combatting global warming. And, I will be posting about the design of our new Butterfly Garden, at the same time that Seymour is finishing up the manuscript for his upcoming Collins/Smithsonian book, BUTTERFLIES.

All coming up on the Seymour Science Blog.  Thanks for writing, Ms. Heller!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Butterflies, Global Warming, Gardening, Earth Day 2010   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 22, 2010


Photo Credit: Liz Nealon


The next book that I’m writing for my Smithsonian/Collins series is a book on butterflies. This is a photo of a monarch taken when we were visiting the monarch butterfly trees in Pacific Grove, California. The trees were filled with monarch butterflies; they looked like autumn leaves rustling in the wind. It was magical-realism, something like a scene out of Marquez’s A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (the book is for adults and may not be appropriate for children). Sad to say, but the population of Monarchs is way down probably due to a number of reasons, not the least is the fact that milkweeds (whose leaves the monarch caterpillars eat)  are being destroyed as a weed alongside some state highways around the country.

Maybe it’s time for butterfly lovers to begin planting a few milkweed plants in butterfly gardens?

Here’s a link to the story (similar to one sent to me by my friend, the cat lady, Carrie Smelser): Female monarch butterflies on 30-year decline in eastern North America 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, New Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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