Words to Know
Each spring, monarch butterflies migrate north from Mexico to lay their eggs on brightly colored milkweed plants. After the eggs hatch, tiny caterpillars grow plump eating milkweed plants in preparation for their big transformation. When they are ready to pupate,
or begin to mature, caterpillars attach themselves to branches with silk they spin and then wiggle out of their skin to reveal a chrysalis. A chrysalis is the hard outer shell protecting the pupa as it goes through a metamorphosis, or change. Slowly, the caterpillar’s body changes into a beautiful butterfly and emerges from the chrysalis to greet the world!
Bumblebees are large, fuzzy insects with wings. Bumblebees live in colonies and are very social. Sometimes they sleep in flowers to stay warm at night. Bumblebees have long tongues to feed on sweet nectar from flowers. The pollen they collect will be turned into honey to feed the colony’s queen and her young. Did you know bumblebees have special hairs on their legs where they store pollen to carry back to the hive? Pollen pellets can weigh up to one-third of their body weight! Can you imagine carrying huge bags of groceries on your legs while traveling several miles?
Did you know that planting milkweed can help support the next generation of monarch butterflies? Milkweed is an important part of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweeds, and monarch caterpillars eat the leaves as they grow. Many butterfly lovers plant milkweed in their gardens to help sustain the monarch butterfly population!
Did you know spiders can get carried away by the wind just like a balloon? When they shoot their silk into a gentle breeze, they can sail on the wind for miles! This technique is called “ballooning.” Spiders can also use electricity to lift themselves into the air using their silken thread, similar to times when static electricity causes your hair to stand up on end.
Grasshoppers jump long distances and can be very chatty! They make music by rubbing their hind
legs together. Did you know that grasshoppers have ears on their bellies and change colors as they age? Grasshoppers eat grass and leaves and are an important source of protein for many wild birds and animals.
Try A Writing Exercise
Write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ask them to put the monarch butterfly on the list of endangered species.