Remember how butterflies were close to topping the list of things Sarah wants us to learn about this year?
In large part, that's thanks to one of our best experiences from our recent vacation to Washington, D.C. - visiting the butterfly experience at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.
Essentially, for $5 a person, you enter a biodome full of plants in which there are HUNDREDS of live butterflies. They fly all around; you can see them up close, and (the best part in Sarah's view) sometimes they even land on you.
We went in twice as a family - and loved it both times.
blue morphos. The amazing thing about them is that when they fold up their wings, they are a drab brown, and then there is this gorgeous blue surprise inside.
buckeye landed on my shoulder and stuck around for about 15 minutes. The hard part is, you're not allowed to touch the butterflies at all to brush them off, lest you hurt them, so occasionally he'd crawl on my neck, which tickled, but I had to just leave him be!
Once we got home, we had a great wonder of timing - our butterfly weed, which we'd planted back in April, had a couple of caterpillars on it, so we took them inside to our butterfly hatchery to see if we could watch them develop. (We'd built the hatchery in 4-H one or two years ago, but never had anything to hatch!)
clouded sulphur. Sarah named him (or her?) Olive, but Olive disappeared somewhere in the recesses of the hatchery!
Now, we've got two small dark brownish-black caterpillars from the same plant, but of unknown species. I'm hoping I can get a better view of them as they get a little bigger, and then maybe Sarah and I can identify them!
(In other good garden news, we are now also home to a plant affectionately known as pumpkin-zilla that is taking up our side yard in an unplanned adventure from our compost pile; a praying mantis; and a small brown frog. I love seeing all this LIFE surrounding our home!)