Kids and families have been drawing, observing, crafting, and reading about plants and pollinators in this year’s summer reading program, with special activities that tie into the Year of the Butterfly.
Some have even been growing native plants and raising butterflies, and sharing their moments with us. Summer reading runs through August 31, and you still can share your stories and photos with us!
Planting a seed: ‘The impact is exponential’
In July, we met a little girl who became smitten with the new native pollinator garden outside the Main Library.
Dean Horkavy, Children’s Services Library Assistant, showed 3-year-old Elise and her mother Tarresha the garden and answered some questions.
“The little girl became very excited by the purple prairie clover that is currently blooming and the many honeybees that are using the fountain as a water source,” he said.
When Dean next saw Elise and her mother, they had already purchased and planted a few of the plants from a list he had shared.
“The mom told me how her child now gets extremely excited whenever they are out walking and identifies purple prairie clover in someone’s garden,” Dean said. “Mom suspects her enthusiasm will grow as the other plants in their newly forming native garden begins to bloom.”
“One small seed planted because the library has a native garden onsite,” Dean said. “The impact is exponential!”
Observing: A monarch lays an egg
Annie told us that she and her 6-year-old son Noor were enjoying an early morning breakfast in their backyard garden when they saw a monarch butterfly lay an egg on one of their milkweed plants.
They’d attended a Year of the Butterfly event at the Oak Park Conservatory in June, hosted by the library and the Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory. There, families learned about butterflies and moths and the importance of milkweed to monarchs.
“We’ve worked hard to grow some hearty milkweed this Year of the Butterfly,” Annie said, “and we’re excited to look out for it to hatch and get eating.”
Discovering: ‘Milkweed’ the monarch caterpillar
Sophia (age 6), Eric (age 4), and their mom Beth were so excited to discover a monarch caterpillar on their milkweed plant.
Releasing: Monarch mimics
In early July, Veronica sent us this photo of JJ and MJ preparing to release their butterflies into the wild.
“These were painted lady butterflies, which use mimicry of monarchs as a protective adaptation. (Monarchs are toxic to many predators!),” she said.
“We haven’t seen any monarchs this season but we have seven milkweed plants in our yard, to feed monarch caterpillars.”