Kirby's Journal: Backyard Butterfly Magic

Written and Photographed by Charlotte Caldwell

To a child, nearby nature can be a universe. Through Kirby’s Journal, Charlotte Caldwell provides children with a portal into their own backyard galaxy.
— Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Overview 

Kirby and friends experience a summer-full of backyard activities, culminating in COMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS.  They learn firsthand how everything is connected to everything else, from planting the garden - HABITAT; to inquiring about insect body parts- MORPHOLOGY; games about the similarities and differences of living things in the backyard - CLASSIFICATION; finding animals in the backyard desiring to eat caterpillars and butterflies - FOOD WEB; and the ingenious defenses to avoid getting eaten - SURVIVAL STRATEGIES.  This beautiful butterfly magic can be discovered in any city or countryside throughout the world.

Excerpts from Kirby's Journal

MORPHOLOGY:

A butterfly’s head has

  • two large compound eyes- they can see in almost every direction

  • a set of long antennae- for feeling stuff

  • and a PROBOSCIS for sipping nectar.  The proboscis looks like a tiny straw when it is sipping, but it rolls up out of the way when it is not eating. 


CLASSIFICATION:

Bees also have two sets of wings (forewings and hind wings).  But a bee’s wings don’t have any scales, so you can see through them. 


THE FOOD WEB: 

Insectivores-  This wasp stung a Lady caterpillar, chewed it into bite size chunks, and flew back to its nest with the pieces.


SURVIVAL STATEGIES: 

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars have prickly barbed spines to keep predators away from them.


COMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS:

First a female lays her eggs on the right kind of host plant. Here’s a Gulf Fritillary egg that has been laid on the tendril of a passion vine host plant. 


EMERGING FROM THE CHRYSALIS:

First it cracked the chrysalis open.  It kept pushing in opposite directions with its head and legs.