Building butterfly housesSLAYTON — Saturday’s wind would have been a serious problem for butterflies, but luckily it didn’t stop people from heading to Shetek Lutheran Ministries to learn about the beautiful insects.
SLAYTON — Saturday’s wind would have been a serious problem for butterflies, but luckily it didn’t stop people from heading to Shetek Lutheran Ministries to learn about the beautiful insects.
The Wings of Wonder presentation brought people from Slayton, Fulda, Garvin, Marshall, Worthington and even from South Dakota. More than 30 kids attended accompanied by parents, grandparents or family friends.
Environmental Director Vicki Doeden said she gets a nice group of attendees every year – some of whom come back year after year to learn about butterflies, build butterfly houses and receive a container of Painted Lady caterpillars.
Before getting to work on the butterfly houses, Doeden had the children gather around her so she could talk about the parts of a butterfly and what makes them special.
“Why do you like butterflies?” she asked.
Hands shot up, and the answers were varied —because of their pretty colors, because they eat nectar and because they came from a chrysalis.
“They have another special purpose I think is pretty cool,” Doeden stated. “They help flowers grow.”
Butterflies are also an important part of the food chain, she added, providing meals for spiders, birds, toads and frogs.
After the lesson, she walked kids and adults through the butterfly house process.
Working as individuals or in family groups, the children and adults decorated the inside of their butterfly house – a cardboard box. Some glued photos from magazines and calendars inside, adding butterfly cut-outs they had colored themselves. Others went with a more elaborate scheme, dividing the box into rooms and adding furniture such as couches and tables made from the materials at hand.
Once the inside of the box was ready, the outside had to be covered with paper and decorated.
The top portion of the box, after the flaps were cut off, was covered with cellophane. In the back, a flap was cut to allow access.
Doeden had already discussed with the children the lifecycle of a butterfly, explaining that their caterpillars would grow and get fatter before climbing to the lid of the jar and attaching themselves. Once the caterpillars had each spun a chrysalis, the lid could be taken off the jar, she said, and taped inside the box.
Through the cellophane, the kids could watch as each chrysalis changed.
“Watch them for a week or two, and one day you’ll wake up in the morning and see butterflies,” Doeden explained.
Each butterfly would emerge with a swollen abdomen, then slowly work the blood from the abdomen up into their wings, which would have to dry. The kids were instructed to feed the butterflies sugar water.
“Their life is about two weeks long, and they can live in there, but maybe you’ll want to keep them in the box for a week and then let them go,” Doeden suggested. “They’ll want to be out in nature.”
For Isaiah Wolske, 3, of Garvin, it was his first attempt at building a butterfly house. When he caught sight of the caterpillars in his cup, he stared intently, watching the little critters crawl up and down. He and his father, Ed, had come to Shetek Lutheran Ministries with a group of other family members.
“I didn’t know they did this,” Ed explained. “(Isaiah) has a little brother at home that didn’t quite make the age cut-off, so we’ll probably end up making another one at home. Big brother can show him how.”