Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally a Swallowtail Caterpillar

Lots of Life in the Fall Garden

Today the students and I were out on our mission to pull out our dead and dying sunflowers, but we were quickly distracted by the amazing critters that were there. We saw three different butterflies but were only able to identify one of them. One was a white butterfly with a bluish tint with a very distinctive edging to the wings. We saw our first buckeye butterfly and were lucky enough to capture it with the camera. We found some large preying mantis' and a very colorful grasshopper. We also saw at least two different types of moths.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Year in the Garden

Last week on August 26 I took my new class of 4th graders to work in the garden for the first time. While working we had our eyes out for critters. We saw a fiery grass skipper right off the bat; there were a lot of bees both honeybees and carpenter bees. The kids really enjoyed looking for new critters.

Today, September 2, we made our third trip to the garden. The students were on the hunt for anything that moved. We were rewarded with praying mantis, grasshoppers, a bevy of beetles (yet to be identified), a cabbage white (who refused to have its picture taken), crickets, chrysalis, and several more unidentified beetles.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fat and Skinny of it all!

My friend Michael and I found the caterpillar in the soil in the native section. The fat caterpillar is a granulated cutworm. The skinny guy is a hesperiidae, probably a fiery grass skipper caterpillar; they eat lettuce. He was found in the native section near the poppies. They were released near them because they were torn from the ground and replanted into the ground to help it grow. So they were put into the native section. by Michael and Bianca

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Say can you tell me the time?

Schinia mortua

Moths are our friends

Discovering Butterflies

This is a fiery grass skipper. This is the adult butterfly of the larva we found in the garden in the fall. They are in the family Hesperiinae their scientific name is Hylephila phyleus. The larva like to feed on grasses such as bermuda and crabgrass. They like open sunny areas, including lawns and fields.

Moths Galore

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Broccoli caterpillars

The caterpillars are green and curl up their back and stay still. You can find them under the broccoli leaves they leave holes in them when they eat. They are fast crawers they can be an inch long they are small not very small they look like they are ready to strike and bite you but not really they do not bite but it looks like it.They are very strange. Jessica

Monday, June 8, 2009

Garden Pollinators

Common Checkered Skipper

Carpenter bees keeping the flowers pollinated

The carpenter bees we filmed(right) were considered to be females. The male(above) was stunned and was released in the garden on June 8,2009. His stinger was missing from his abdomen he was not able to fly. The carpenter bee is known to bit out wood from unpainted wood to make a nest. By Michael

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yellow Jacket Worker

Adult yellow jacket eats the nectar, and the larva
eats pre-chewed insects. Born in North America. Habitat, Meadows, edges of forested land
it also lives in stumps and in fallen logs. The body is stout ,slightly wider than the head.They are yellow and black the wings are smokey. I found the sidewalk when going in class from Garden time we have lots of yellow Jackets around here.
They protect their nest and can sting when you are near their nest and can be in house roofs,
in barns, trees, bird houses, wind chimes, and they can be anywhere just be careful. By:Jessica

Pterostichus aka Ground Beetle

They have shiny black

Amara aenea aka Sun Beetle

I was hula hoeing and I saw a bug running I almost killed it and I picked it up and said his name is Speedy. I let it go in the in dirt. Marco and I both found sun beetles in the garden. We were trying to identify them. The adults are known to eat developing seeds from mostly grasses. They were crawling around when we found them. By: Marco and Michael

Gray Hairstreak - Gone but not forgotten

  • One spring day my friend Jessica and I went to school and we were going to our teacher's garden
and she has the prettiest garden in the whole school. When we were there we found a little, tiny,
and small butterfly that was almost the same size as a my dad's finger nail. But really it was so so so small. by Kayla
It is a small gray wings with Orange tips. I, Jessica almost stepped on it
when my friend Kayla told me to watch ouRemove Formatting from selectiont it was so small. It was in the garden on the side walk
floor dead. Laying inside the wing are Orange, I think?? He or she is very pretty it is very soften the Jessica

2 and 2 are 4, 4 and 4 are 8...inchworm, inchworm

This active little green guy is from the class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, family Geometridae. This Geometridae was found by Rebecca and Kaithlyn hanging out on the broccoli plants.

I found him when I was pulling weeds. Kaitlyn didn't see him at first. He was very well camouflaged. At first, I thought the grass was alive. Then I knew what it was. It was a huge green wormy Caterpillar.

I identified the caterpillar when Rebecca picked it up. It was green like the plant it was on. It had stripes that were white. The caterpillar moved like a cut worm that's why it looked like a cut worm. The caterpillar was small and moved cool. The caterpillar eats on broccoli.

Ladybug, Ladybug

Today it appeared that all the hard work we have done all year is starting to pay off.  We are finding more and more critters in the garden.  In the past few week beneficial insects making our garden their home.  This ladybug was keeping itself busy on one of our many sunflowers in the Butterfly Waystation.
Ladybugs are classified in the class Insecta, the order coleoptera, the family of coccinellidae, they are also known as Ladybird beetles.  The name Ladybird is from the English and has been used since medieval times.  There are more than 400 species of ladybugs.  So we will leave our identification as a ladybug,  what a daunting task to figure out what kind of ladybug.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cocoons, Dirt and Extras

My friends and I found this cocoon in the dirt at the garden. We found the cocoon yesterday 5/27/09. I was digging to plant some cucumber plants that Mrs. Cantu's class had started and it was just lying there. Today it turned see though. It might hatch any day now. I predict that it will become a granulated cutworm moth.
by Michaela

Friend or Foe

Yesterday I saw a gopher. It was huge. It was all the way out of its hole. I think it is a friend. When I saw it it was eating weeds. I gave it a carrot. It did not eat it though. We named it Gophieshyguy. Here is a picture of the hole and the carrot.

by Michaela

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taking care of a Painted Lady

Well I was out in Mrs.Retford's fourth grade garden and I found a wounded Painted Lady. It was not able to fly because of its damaged wing. So, Mrs. Retford told me that she might take it home and get it some sugar-water. I asked her if I could take it home and get some sugar-water for the butterfly. At my house my sister named it Moe. Which I thought was a good name because we didn't know if it was a male or female. When I came home one day after school Moe had died, it wasn't moving so, that was the end of Moe.
by Sydnee

Painted Ladies

One of our most frequent visitors to our garden so far has been the Painted Lady Butterfly.  These butterflies are one of the most widespread in the world.  They are a migratory lepidoptera.  The scientific name for these winged beauties is Vanessa cadui.  Their favorite flowers are aster, thistle, cosmos, and buttonbush.  Their caterpillars are especially fond of thistle, mallow, hollyhock, malva, and sunflowers.  Of these plants we have an abundance of sunflowers (they can really take over a garden) and mallow (which we were pulling like mad, but have decided to make peace with in at least one section of the garden).  

This particular specimen was caught on the way to school by one of my students.  He proudly brought it to me in a plastic grocery bag.  At first we placed it in a "critter box" and observed it for a morning in class.  In the afternoon I released it into the garden only to have it recaptured after school.  Upon close examination we discovered that it had a damaged wing.  It was taken home and fed nectar aka sugar water and brought back to school the next day.  It appeared to be better but was still unable to fly.  So, the same student took it home to nurse it over the weekend, unfortunately it did not make it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What Should We Do?

What should we do?
Proposing a public policy

So, how do we save butterflies? We think that developers should set aside a green space for native plants and butterflies in California’s Central Valley. Several of the advantages are: It brings a connection between community residents. It will reduce noise pollution. It provides recreational use like: a place to play, meditate, or rest. In all walks of life it brings happiness to humans and nature. The disadvantages are: It will cost more at first. There could be vandalism in the green space. There will be less housing space. Someone will have to plant and maintain the plants. You might have to replant some of the plants because of the herbivores that might eat the plants in the green space.

By: Sydnee, Serenity, Sierrah

Lettuce and Extras

I found this cutworm in the garden. On Wednesday 4/29/09. Actually, I found it in the lettuce that I took home to make a salad. While I was washing the lettuce I discovered this caterpillar. It is a granulate cutworm. A cutworm is a dull brown caterpillar, and becomes a cutworm moth. These are a common pest for farmers who grow lettuce, cabbage, clover, and carrots.

by Michaela

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look Who Came to Visit

We are in the middle of California State testing, i.e. STAR testing, just finishing up our first English Language Arts test when we notice a strange bug crawling on the floor.  I quickly grabbed one of the students snack cups and a piece of paper to capture this odd looking creature.  Once captured it almost appeared dead.  The insect had retracted its legs and wasn't moving.  We quickly took pictures so that we could send them to the local UC Extension contact.  I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and I had never seen anything like this.  Once I got home I sent the pictures off to the UC Extension office.  By the next morning I had positive identification on the bug.  He is a Diabolical Ironclad Beetle.  

The Mysterious Case of the Misidentified Weed

Upon further investigation the plant we affectionately called "pigweed" and were on a search and destroy mission with, was actually Common mallow, Malva neglecta. Mallow is a common weed in open areas, most farmers don't like finding this weed in their fields.

It can be eaten, it has a mild flavor and adds extra nutrition to salads. It can even be used in soups as a thickener. Native Americans used mallow to treat wounds.

The most interesting thing that we found out is that Common Mallow is a host plant for butterflies. The butterflies in California that like to use mallow are: Cabbage White, Common Checkered Skipper, Gray Hairstreak, and the Painted Lady.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Our plan is to save butterflies. We are trying to save their habitats so more can live. We were thinking of planting flowers in our garden so butterflies can eat. Our plan is to build a butterfly waystation. The Monarch Waystation is a place where butterflies can come year after year to find milkweeds and eventually produce generations. For every ten houses set aside a certain amount of land to build a butterfly way station so more butterflies could be saved.

By Ashley and Christina

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Native Plants

We have been planting native plants for our garden such as: Coyote Brush (Baccharis Twinpeaks), common aster (Aster Chilensis), Pitcher sage (Lepechinia), Purple Needle Grass (Nassella pulchera), and a Hummingbird Plant (Zauschneria canum latfolia). We planted these native plants because our class is going to have a butterfly way station. A butterfly way station is a place where butterflies and other pollinators come to stop and eat and lay eggs on host plants. Our class planted the native plants because butterflies are losing their native habitats.

By Michael


In the garden one of my favorite jobs is pig weed patrol. Just today we were on pig weed patrol, and found one of the biggest one ever in our garden. It was about 50 cm. The biggest one I ever saw was when we went to the Tuolumne River, it was at least 120 cm.

Written by Salvador edited by Mrs. Retford

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why a Butterfly Way Station in the Central Valley?

So...why is it important to carve time out of a busy school day to worry about butterflies?

One reason we take time out of school to worry about butterflies is because we are loosing butterfly habitat and we have less butterflies around the world. We have a garden at our school and in that garden we are working on a butterfly way station. The purpose of the butterfly way station is to help increase the butterfly population. All it takes is about 16 dollars and a little time and space so all gardeners across the world can help the population of butterflies.

Written by Marco, Marcos, and Christina