Thursday, July 30, 2009

Butterflies and Moths I Saw This Summer

 giant swallowtail drinking from milkweed







IMG_0828 IMG_0825 






Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Knitting Scarves for the Homeless

Another hobby I have is knitting. My dad participates in a homeless ministry and I decided to help by knitting scarves for the homeless. My nine year old brother, Joshua and my sister Andrea decided to help me with knitting scarves. I was very glad for their help! We have eight scarves so far.



For this scarf I used the “seed stitch” to create little bumps in the material. As you can see the birds think it makes a great nest. 


“Detective Joshua” is prepared for the winter months! I used a knitting pattern that makes the scarf look like a woven material.


Joshua loves to pretend to be an old man. Our Grandpa Leeper carved a cane out of a vine for Joshua to use. If you would like to knit scarves for the homeless you can send them to me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blue Morpho Butterflies in Costa Rica

My parents went to Costa Rica in February of this year. They were able to visit a butterfly farm with many tropical butterflies of Costa Rica.  One of the butterflies they saw was my favorite butterfly, the Blue Morpho. They were able to get some pictures of this beautiful butterfly. I did research on the internet to find out more about these butterflies.

blue butterfly These are Blue Morpho butterflies. They live in the Tropical forests of Latin America from Mexico to Columbia. Their wings serve as a special defense. When an enemy approaches the butterfly uses its wings to flash bright light in their eyes. This temporary blindness confuses the enemy causing them to flee.


When the Blue Morpho needs camouflage they simply close their wings revealing a brown color. This color helps them blend into the trees. The “eye spots” on their wings also are used as camouflage.

Morpho eggs

These tiny eggs were laid by the Blue Morpho butterfly. The eggs take eight or nine days to hatch. The eggs are green when first laid and then begin to turn brown as they near hatching. After hatching, the caterpillar will begin eating the leaves of its host plant. Blue Morpho caterpillars eat Mucuna and peanut plants. When the caterpillar becomes to big for its skin it will shed it off. The time between the shedding of skin is called an Instar.

To see pictures of a Blue Morpho caterpillar hatching please visit 


The Blue Morpho caterpillar will eat for about eleven weeks to reach the size of three and a half inches. That’s a big caterpillar! After searching for the perfect branch it will spin a silk pad to attach itself to. After hanging upside down for hours it will finally split its skin and reveal a beautiful green chrysalis. It will hang in the chrysalis for about two weeks until it is ready emerge as a Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Blue Morpho Facts

1. There are around 50 different species of Blue Morpho butterflies.

2. Their wings can be 5 to 8 inches in width.

3. Blue Morpho adults like to drink from rotting fruit!

4. The caterpillars are red-brown with patches of lime-green on the back area.

5. Blue Morpho caterpillars are Nocturnal creatures.

Blue Morpho butterflies are severely threatened because of deforestation of tropical forests. Thankfully there are people working to stop this.  I found a web-site that has an Adopt-A-Rainforest program to help stop rainforest destruction.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Queen Butterfly Emerges!


After a week of waiting the chrysalis begins to change. It’s green color begins to fade away leaving a thin plastic cover around the butterfly. When you can see the butterfly’s wings through the chrysalis that means it will emerge in a few hours! It uses its small legs to push the chrysalis “door” open. Once out it quickly pumps fluid through its wings.


In just a few hours the Queen butterfly’s wings are ready for flight. If you touch a butterfly’s wings before they are dry you could damage them. Releasing butterflies brings me such joy. I love watching them glide across the sky as if they were weightless. Butterflies are a wonderful gift from God.


Monday, July 20, 2009

My Queen Caterpillar Prepares to Make a Chrysalis

Queen caterpillar day 7

This caterpillar just shed it’s skin. It is now going back to eat it! Caterpillars have to shed their skin because they don’t grow.

queen caterpillar 8 days old

This caterpillar has changed a lot in just eight days! It takes a lot of leaves to reach this size.

 queen caterpillar 9 days old


These two caterpillars lived together since they were tiny caterpillars. They seemed to get along well compared to some  other moody Monarch caterpillars I’ve raised. When two caterpillars meet they will sometimes nip at each other or even knock the other off the plant. You shouldn’t have to worry about injury unless you are low on food.

IMG_0474 IMG_0483


The Queen’s chrysalis looks like a Monarch chrysalis. Just after a Queen caterpillar makes a chrysalis you can see stripes on the front of the chrysalis.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Update of my Black Swallowtails

In this post I will show pictures of what happened to each of the four Black Swallowtail caterpillars I raised in my pavilion. Some pictures are from past blog posts. I will also show pictures of the other Black Swallowtail caterpillars I found outside in my garden.

caterpillar 1 caterpillar 1-1

This was my very first Black Swallowtail that I raised. I kept it protected inside my pavilion but sadly it died while forming a chrysalis.

caterpillar 2 in chrysalis IMG_0598

My second caterpillar came out in about a week. But I was disappointed again to find the butterfly deformed and unable to move. In the wild this butterfly would of quickly become a meal for a hungry creature.


Caterpillar 3 and 4 both made brown chrysalises. I have been waiting more than three weeks for these butterflies to emerge. From my studies I have learned that when a Black Swallowtail makes a brown chrysalis it will usually stay in the chrysalis through the winter. They will emerge as butterflies probably next year in spring.

Out in my Garden Box


Outside in my garden box I found several Black Swallowtail caterpillars eating my parsley. Thankfully the plant will grow back for my next caterpillar visitors.

I had a Black Swallowtail butterfly lay at least a hundred eggs on this one parsley plant. Because of all the wasps only a few caterpillars survived to be butterflies. I have found five Black Swallowtail chrysalises out in my garden box and all of them emerged as healthy butterflies. In nature only the healthiest and quickest caterpillars can make it to be adult butterflies because of all the predators. I’ve decided to collect the Black Swallowtail chrysalises from my garden instead of raising them inside of my pavilion. ( I have had success raising Monarchs inside of my butterfly pavilion.)


Some Black Swallowtails out in my garden made chrysalises on my milkweed plants. They all made green chrysalises to blend into their surroundings.

IMG_0802 Black Swallowtail butterfly

I took two chrysalises from my garden and put them inside of my pavilion. (The other three I left outside in my garden). After waiting for almost a week my first Black Swallowtail finally emerged! We were all very excited. I think this one is a male Black Swallowtail.

IMG_0804black swallowtail eyes

If you look closely you can see two orange spots that look like eyes. These eye like spots our used to scare off predators. When I was taking pictures of this butterfly It thought I was a predator so it started flapping it’s wings at me.

male black swallowtail

This is the next Black Swallowtail that emerged. This one I also took from my garden when it was a chrysalis. It Is a male Black Swallowtail.


This butterfly emerged out in my garden. It was well hidden in my water hyssop plant. Look how much blue it has on its wings. This is a female Black Swallowtail.


This butterfly will soon emerge. You can now its wings showing through the chrysalis.


This is the last chrysalis I found in my garden. It was hiding in my Oregano plant.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Elizabeth Mann, “All American Teen Talent 2009”, meets Britt Nicole


IMG_0808 I was invited to Z88.3 Christian radio station to meet Britt Nicole. I choreographed a lyrical ballet to her song, “Set the World on Fire” and won the title, “All American Teen Talent 2009”. She autographed my Brio magazine where she was on the front cover. She also autographed my banner. She enjoyed hearing about my butterflies and is interested in learning more about them through my blog.

To view my dance at a local event please click the link.