Equal Time for Night Wings

by Stefani on 9-February-2010

Blue Yonder Ranch - Mothing

It has been brought to my attention that I have given air time here to our favorite wings of the daytime, birds and butterflies, but have neglected to mention that there are some much beloved winged night things here too.

“Mama, people should really care about moths and beetles too…. they’re neater than the daytime stuff, but I don’t think too many people know it.”

And so I have promised to let you know that there are night things worth your attention too….

… night things that are getting a GREAT deal of attention here.

Luke and I attended a workshop last summer on attracting night creatures and came away with two great tips to pass along.

First, get yourself a black light and a white sheet. Hang the light horizontally above the sheet. The result is a sort of beacon to night critters. It isn’t so much the light itself that’s the magic, it’s the fact that it turns the whole sheet into one big glowing light.

If it is warm enough, you’ll attract a host of specimens for study.

Once they are on the sheet, most of these creatures become a little mesmerized. They don’t stir too easily. So, it’s easy to slip a jar over them and then slide a piece of paper underneath. If you then put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes, they will slow way down and let you look at and photograph them without so much as a wiggle.

Blue Yonder - Beetlemania

Female Rhinoceros Beetle and Green June Beetle

Another tip… if you’ve got a banana that has turned nice and black, the squishier the better, put it out on a tray nearby. It helps to raise it a little on a table or chair, or even better, get one of those shepherds hooks meant for bird feeders, with the accompanying hanging platform. Some moths and beetles really dig this sweet treat. (Lots of butterflies do too, but we’re not talking about them right now, are we? 🙂

At the moment, even in Texas, we’re not coming up with too many moths and beetles yet. It’s still too cold. That hasn’t slowed the investigative process though… We’ve been keeping careful records of what we’ve found at the sheet each night, as well as the air and soil temperatures (we use a meat thermometer to test the soil temp). We’re hoping to see, through the summer, how the number of critters correlates to the number of degrees.

We have learned something very interesting so far. Even though none of us have had a bite since early fall, there ARE still mosquitos around. And this, of course, has lead to the dreaming up of many more questions, hypotheses and potential experiments.

Inquiring minds want to know… even after the sun goes down.

Lise February 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm

This is great information, and I’m filing it away in my brain for when my baby grows up a bit. I love the depth of the projects your sons do.

Miko's Girl February 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Has your son added a luna moth to his collection? Last year, we had one on the garage door – quite beautiful! I think it was attracted to our moonflower vine. Thanks for educating us on things that crawl and fly in the night!

Stefani February 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Oh he would VERY much love to have a Luna in his collection, but no such luck yet. We’re kind of on the edge of their range. My grandmother says she sees them often by her porch light though, so we will be keeping careful watch when we visit her this spring and summer!

Nancy February 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm

What a great idea. I love this kind of clever, easy tip that kids will enjoy so. We’ll have to wait a few months to try this, but we have a black light (for, um, finding hidden kitty carpet stains) and a white sheet, so we’re good to go!

Lindsey Alyce February 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Stefani, your ideas for teaching and learning get me so excited to be a mom! I’m not sure whether or not we will home-school our little one when the time comes, but reading your blog sure makes me want to. I LOVE things like this!

Stefani February 10, 2010 at 10:13 am

Thank you Lindsey! Education choices can be so tough to make and in the end it is such a personal decision. And you know, either way, whatever choice you make, there will be some doubts and misgivings. Just love hard and keep that enthusiasm though and you’ll have lots of learning adventures together no matter where you choose to hang your backpacks!

lora February 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm

very cool. awesome ideas. thanks for sharing that good night time stuff, too. 😉

helen February 10, 2010 at 12:34 am

Mine are almost 2, almost 4, and getting sort-of-close to 6 years old. I look at the things you do with your three and it is like a light at the end of a long diaper changing, bottom wiping tunnel. You inspired several projects around our home before the ‘baby’ became a ‘toddler’, but I am keeping notes for next year when my ‘toddler’ starts evolving into ‘big boy’…

Stefani February 10, 2010 at 10:14 am

Oh I remember those days! Such a balance between cherishing the right here and now and becoming excited about all the big boy things to come…
Enjoy the ride, mama!

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