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Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

Egg-hunts for Easter? That’s so old hat. Instead, Josie (a.k.a Super ladybug) and I have decided to go on a backyard bug-hunt.

Super ladybug.

Super ladybug a.k.a. Josie!

We’ve had some lovely bug close encounters just recently. It’s that wonderful time of year when we are harvesting our autumn crops, cutting back shrubs and trees ready for winter, and as we do so, we are uncovering some cool critters.

Like this amazing praying mantis that we found on the basil! He was pretty feisty, boxing at us with all his might, which just showed off the wonderful blue spots on the insides of his legs that identified him as New Zealand’s native mantis.

NZ praying mantis.

Josie meets a praying mantis

And our swan plants that we planted this summer are still producing crops of Monarch – this one landed on Josie’s knee to dry its wings! I haven’t quite convinced myself to plant onga onga nettle though – I know it’s a favourite of red admirals but it seems slightly bizarre to plant tree nettle in a home garden!

Josie and Monarch.

Josie and Monarch.

That is of course the best way to welcome insects – plant up your garden with plants that insects like.  Butterflies are attracted by lots of nectar and so like plants with flowers to rest and land on. The NZbutterfly website has some detailed fact sheets about each species of butterfly and what plants they like. Bees also like lots of nectar and they are pretty handy for pollinating flowers.  Native shrubs like Olearia, hebes, shrubby tororaro, and pittosporums like kōhūhu and tarata / lemonwood are all favourites of insects.

red admiral.

Red admiral

Of course anyone with a compost heap and vege garden would welcome worms as they help with important jobs like aerating the soil. Areas of long grass or hedges become refuges for insects to over-winter in and a good layer of mulch or leaf litter on the garden will also encourage insects.

So, to find out how insect-friendly our garden really is, we decided to see what else we could find. On the Department of Conservation website we found instructions on how to make two really cool traps to catch insects.

And to keep ourselves busy while waiting for our traps to catch something, we had a go at an inside insect hunt as well.

We made some rainbow rice, thanks to this great recipe from happy hooligans.

Bugs hiding in rainbow rice.

The bugs are hiding in rainbow rice!

I buried the bugs in the rice and then Josie “hunted” them down. Josie was so funny – she carefully uncovered by random scattering of insects, and then carefully placed them in lines – one line per rainbow stripe. Then she covered them back up again! She has a wonderful sense of order.

Happy entomologist.

Josie is a happy entomologist - even if she can't say the word!

I thought William would be too old for this activity but no, he was right into it as well. His approach was to pull all the bugs out, smooth the rice down with the back of a spoon. He then placed the bugs on top of the rice, grouping them by colour – which he then said was camouflage!

William uncovers the bugs.

William on the hunt for bugs

Anyway, we can’t wait ‘til Easter Sunday to check our potato traps – let the bug hunt begin!

Colour-coded camo bugs.

Colour-coded camo bugs as sorted by William.

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It’s difficult to sum up how life has changed since the earthquakes of 22 February 2011.  Its the little things really. Like having to drive to buy milk as there is no corner dairy-or supermarket-nearby.

It’s driving down the road and missing your turn because the historic old post office that used to stand on the corner had finally completely been demolished. Landmarks are disappearing and all street corners look the same.

It’s in things like taking the children to the movies in the summer holidays.  It was our first time back in a big movie complex and I was a little nervous. So I got the kids to practice their ‘turtles’ on the floor before the movie started.  That’s just the realities of living in Christchurch with constant aftershocks.

Turtles; Sarah mankelow

Josie and William practice their turtles

But it’s also in the solidarity of shared experiences that have turned suburbs into strong communities.  The outpouring of expression and creativity that has been inspired by these events and shared, exhibited and admired. The Butterfly and the Earthquake book is only one example.  The ingenuity and innovation of the people of Christchurch as they adapt to a new city, new ways of working and new ways of living.

Life goes on here. So does the shaking but that’s the new normal.

Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust released 185 butterflies into the wild on 22 February 2012 in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the earthquake a year ago.

In many countries and traditions the butterfly is a symbol of transformation-for obvious reasons.

Josie and caterpillar.

Josie checks on the caterpillar

From egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon and finally emerging with wings unfurled, the butterfly is the master of metamorphosis.

Imagine the whole of your life changing to such extreme ways you are unrecognizable at the end of the transformation.  Here in Christchurch we don’t have to imagine it, it’s happened to us all.

Josie and butterfly.

Josie and butterfly

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