There are some things in life we’d be glad to see less of: bills, litter, standardized tests. Monarch butterflies are not one of them. The striking orange and black wings of the monarch make it one of the most favorite butterfly species in North America. Unfortunately, this year’s numbers of monarchs are the lowest ever on record. At their peak in 1996, monarchs covered nearly 45 acres of forest in their overwintering grounds in Mexico. This year, they covered only 1.65 acres.
So spare some space in your garden this year for milkweed. If you’ve seen our current 3D film Flight of the Butterflies, you know how important milkweed is to monarchs. Milkweed is where monarchs lay their eggs and is the only food source for monarch caterpillars.
Click here to learn how to plant milkweed and nectar-producing flowers to create your own butterfly garden. Then sit down quietly and wait for the butterflies to alight upon you.
People are buzzing about the anticipated influx of billions of cicadas to the eastern United States. Some are eagerly awaiting their arrival, while others are sure to be spooked by the insects’ beady red eyes and orange wings.
The New York area is part of the Magicicada Brood II’s range and can expect to see the insects sometime in April or May. After spending 17 years underground, they will emerge when the ground, at 8 inches deep, reaches a steady temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. To help residents predict the emergence of the bugs, NYSCI has teamed up with Radiolab and WNYC to offer workshops on how to build your own cicada detector. Participants will use the detectors to observe the ground temperature at their homes and record their findings on a special website. In the process, they’ll learn some DIY skills and citizen science, while helping the rest of us prepare for the cicadas’ appearance.
Not many people can say they’ve hooked up with the four elements, but NYSCI Librarian Rebecca Reitz is working towards doing just that.
Wielding only a crochet hook, Rebecca will use yarn, beads, seashells and other decorative items to create her fiber art piece EARTH.AIR.FIRE.WATER. The first part of the project will focus on Earth and will be displayed at World Maker Faire, a two-day festival celebrating the do-it-yourself movement.
Rebecca’s EARTH project was inspired by a recent vacation in the Adirondacks. Using yarn with various hues of greens and browns, and lots of improvisation (inventing the patterns as she crochets), she has created afghan squares of various Earth-themed subjects, which will be exhibited at World Maker Faire.
“I like reinterpreting the world in crochet – a medium I love,” said Rebecca. “People find a form of expression that best suits their character, and I found crochet.”
Since she was a teenager, Rebecca has been crocheting a variety of items including hats, scarves, blankets and even some molecule-inspired jewelry. At last year’s Faire, she presented three-dimensional, crocheted mushrooms attached to real pieces of wood. And NYSCI’s Science Technology Library displays some of her yarn-bombing work year-round.
To learn more about her art, hook up with Rebecca at World Maker Faire, which will be held at NYSCI on September 17 and 18.