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