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From frogs to snakes to butterflies, our scientists are answering even more of your common questions in today’s newsletter! Have more science and nature questions for our team? Drop them in the comments below!
What is the difference between frogs and toads?
(Disponible en español)
You might think that frogs and toads are completely different animals, but they’re not! Toads are actually a classification of frog. You can typically tell them apart by looking at their skin and their location. Frogs often have moist skin and are most often seen in or near bodies of water. Toads often have dry, bumpy skin, and are more often seen in lawns away from water.
Teaching Tip: Keep exploring frogs with the book “A Frog’s Life” (“La Vida de la Rana”). Check it out in English here and in Spanish here.
What is the difference between chrysalises and cocoons?
(Disponible en español)
Both butterflies and moths go through four basic life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. When they reach the pupa stage, they deal with it in different ways. Butterfly caterpillars become chrysalises. The pupa’s body hardens to help protect it from predators, but they don’t make any additional covering. Moth caterpillars, on the other hand, create a covering (the cocoon) out of silk that then covers the pupa for additional protection. Click here to see a picture of a chrysalis and here to see an atlas moth cocoon. Can you see the differences?
Teaching Tip: Use this as an opportunity to explore the butterfly life cycle in more detail. You can focus on the monarch life cycle by checking out David M. Schwartz’s book in English here and in Spanish here.
How does a snake have a baby?
Although some snakes lay eggs, others have their babies in a different way. Click here to watch Dr. Allison explain!
Guiding Question: Do you remember talking about smooth greensnakes? How did they have their babies? What is special about them? (Click here to refresh your memory.)
Where do the Butterfly Haven butterflies come from?
You’ve probably noticed that the butterflies in the Judy Istock Butterlfy Haven are not butterflies you can find in Illinois. In fact, they live in tropical parts of the world and are sent to us as cocoons and chrysalises. Click here to listen to bug expert Dr. Doug explain how we get our moths and butterflies.
What happens to cicada husks?
You’ve probably discovered the molted exoskeletons of cicadas still attached to trees, leaves, and fences. Although you might think that the animals that eat cicadas might want to eat those too, they actually don’t. Instead, strong winds and rain eventually knock them to the ground. Once there, they’re walked on and broken down where they eventually combine with the soil. We’ll be talking all about cicadas later this week!
Don’t stop wondering!
We’ve had a blast answering some of your common questions, but as you work with your young scientist just remember that you don’t need to have all the answers! Take this opportunity to show them that we are all life-long learners. Embrace the uncertainty and learn alongside your scientist. Remember: science isn’t about knowing facts – it’s a process of curiosity, wonder, and exploration. Instead of focusing on knowing facts, engage your scientist in the practices of science by encouraging them to ask questions, investigate, and share their explanations as they figure it out. Find more helpful tips here.
Behind the Scenes
We recently hosted a webinar with our Chicago Conservation Corps team and Community Glue Workshop’s Carla Bruni all about radical reuse. Click here to check out the recording.
Mi nombre Claudia, i raise butterflies monarchs and black swallotail. I would like to know wich are the host plants for other butterflies.
Can somebody provide me that info? We have a group that is call Women For Green Spaces , our first proyect is to promote butterfly gardens. We are also part of Working Family Solidarity.