(Contenido disponible en Español está marcado abajo)
In today’s newsletter, we’re tackling some of your most common questions. Have other questions? Be sure to drop us a line and maybe we’ll include it in our next Frequently Asked Questions roundup!
“Do snapping turtles bask?”
Yes, they do! Because turtles are cold-blooded, they can’t regulate their body temperature internally. That means that they depend on the sun to absorb warmth and UV rays. We often see painted turtles and red-eared sliders basking in North Pond, but there are also lots of common snapping turtles that live in the pond and love to bask. Turtles often stick out their legs when basking to increase their surface area and absorb even more heat!
Guiding Question: Have your young scientist compare this common snapping turtle with Patsy, our alligator snapping turtle. How are they similar? How are they different?
“Where do atlas moths sleep?”
When they’re in the wild, they sleep perched on trees, foliage (other plants), or potentially even buildings and other structures. In the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, they mostly perch in our trees, plants, and on the windows. They mostly sleep during the day and are active at night. Click here to get a closer look at an atlas moth!
Guiding Question: What term would we use to describe atlas moths? (Diurnal? Nocturnal?) Why do you think it chooses to rest on plants, etc. to sleep?
“Can a poisonous animal use its poison in a way other than excreting it when eaten?”
It depends on the animal! Monarch caterpillars are not able to use the chemicals they store in their body in any other way than waiting to be eaten. Black swallowtail caterpillars, however, have an organ called an osmeterium behind their heads which, when everted, releases smelly and bad tasting chemicals. It’s defensive, but they are able to use the poison beyond just being eaten. Many insects can use these chemicals in a wide variety of defense strategies, but many others can only wait until they are eaten. Click here to see the swallowtail caterpillar in action!
Teaching Tip: Need a refresher on poisonous animals versus venomous animals? Click here.
“Does holding a butterfly hurt it?”
(Disponible en español)
Although we can’t ask a butterfly how it feels, we don’t think it does! But we do know that handling it improperly can cause damage. So, we want to make sure to handle them as gently as possible and with proper technique. That’s why you’ll often see our scientists using their pointer and middle finger, or pointer and thumb, to hold them by the base of their wings. You can see how our scientists hold monarch butterflies in order to tag them here. Want to keep learning about butterflies and moths? Click here for Angela Royston’s book “Life Cycle of A Butterfly” in English and click here to access it in Spanish.
Guiding Question: Why do you think it might be important to hold the butterfly in this way? Why do you think it might damage a butterfly to hold it by the tip of its wing, or in another way?
The Mystery Bag is back!
Camp director Nicole is back with round two of this fun game for us to play online, and for your family to play at home! Click here to check it out!
Behind the Scenes
WBBM Newsradio had questions about cicada killers and the Asian giant hornet, and chief curator Doug Taron was ready to answer them. Click here to check out the interview.