Going "Bear" Hunting?

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How to Care for a Bear

Raising any caterpillar to watch the life cycle is a rewarding, educational experience. Woolly Bears are cute & fuzzy caterpillars that are active this time of year, making them easy to find. And they're quite easy to raise!

Here's your how-to guide for caring for a Bear!

Step 1: Find a Woolly Bear

It’s not hard to find a Woolly Bear: they love weeds like dandelion and goldenrod which are abundant in this area. You may even see one crossing the street, don't feel ashamed to stop the car and go collect the Woolly Bear (of course doing so safely). We brake for Woolly Bears all the time!

Step 2: Set up a Terrarium

Use a terrarium or container that has holes or mesh for a lid, and make sure the container is big enough for the Bears to wander around. Put 1/2 - 1" of soil in the bottom and keep it evenly moist (but never wet). Keep the terrarium outside, at least at night (read on to find out why).

Step 3: Care for Your Bear

Woolly bears are not picky eaters. You can feed them the leaves of almost anything you'd call a weed, like dandelion, plantain, burdock, goldenrod, etc. Add more food regularly (every 1 - 2 days), and clean out the caterpillar frass (aka poop) as it collects. If you're keeping the terrarium outside at least at night, the Bears will naturally stop eating and begin to hibernate on their own. After the temperatures stay cold enough that your Bear stops waking up, take out all old food and stop feeding.

Step 4: Prepare Your Bear for Winter

Add some fallen leaves or small pieces of wood that your Bear can curl up under. Your Woolly Bear will want to sleep undisturbed in a cold spot all winter long. Remember, it needs to stay outside! It may seem harsh to leave it out in the cold, but that's what your Woolly Bear needs.

Step 5: Check & Mist as Necessary

Check on your Bear periodically to make sure the container and the contents stay moist. Keeping the container outside helps with this, but if it does get dry you can occasionally mist the terrarium.

Step 6: Whence comes the spring...

When the temperatures go up your Bear will begin to wake up so you need to start feeding it again. Keep feeding your bear until it stops eating on its own. Eventually the caterpillar will make a fuzzy cocoon, and in 2-3 weeks it will emerge as a lovely Isabella Tiger Moth! Check the terrarium frequently and be sure to release the moth after it emerges and dries its wings.

 

CLICK HERE for more information on Woolly Bear Weekends!

 

 
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On Now: Butterflies of India & South Asia

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Butterflies of India & South Asia - A Special Exhibition

We are very excited to feature a special exhibition of freely-flying Butterflies from India & South Asia. India is home to approximately 1,800 species and subspecies of butterflies. Of those species between 15-20% are native to the area. This makes India a hotspot for butterfly diversity and conservation. A few of the butterflies to look out for flying in our conservatory include:

Common Lime Swallowtail

Papilio demoleus

This beautiful butterfly is sure to catch your eye in the Conservatory with its checkered patterning! The name of a butterfly can tell you a lot about it. In the case of the lime swallowtail their name describes the citrus host plants they lay their eggs on. Unlike most swallowtails they do not have tails on their wings as their name would otherwise suggest. They are known to be strong fliers and even change their mode of flight depending on the time of day which they are flying. In the cooler morning they have a slow flight and as it heats up they will fly straight and low making them a great butterfly to look out for. In the hottest part of the day you can find them on wet patches of ground imbibing the moisture and staying motionless unless disturbed.

Blue Clipper

Parthenos sylvia

The blue clipper is an exceptionally widely distributed butterfly being found across India and South Asia to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Powerful and fast flyers, they alternate between short bursts of gliding to rapid wing beats, you'll definitely know one if you see one! Both males and females can often be seen feeding on lantana. Males can also be seen landing on the wet ground where they suck up the fluids to obtain necessary nutrients. We call this behaviour 'puddling'.

Malay Cruiser

Vindula dejone

Cruising around the Conservatory, you are certain to spot this bold butterfly. Males and females are different colours, the males are a bright orange and the females are grey with a white band. Males can usually be seen puddling on the wet ground. They like to feed on rotting fruit and when feeding usually keep their wings spread open. They are not a shy butterfly and you can get nice and close to take a look while they feed on lantana in the Conservatory.


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Monarch Population Status Update

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It has been a banner summer for the Monarch butterfly!

 

We've been getting a lot of feedback from butterfly enthusiasts across southern Ontario who are all reporting seeing more Monarchs than last year. Certainly we have also observed more butterflies and caterpillars on our milkweed than the last two years combined, which is great considering the delayed spring made for a rather slow start for Monarchs this year.

 

The annual migration will be starting very soon, if it isn't already slowly taking place. There are still caterpillars and chrysalides out there on wild milkweed, so don't be surprised if you see adult Monarch butterflies right until the end of September. Over the next few weeks, adult Monarchs will begin a 4000-5000 km one-way journey to the Transvolcanic Mountain range in Mexico where they will overwinter.

 

While it seems like there's been an increase in their numbers this summer, it's still important to remember that the Monarch population has experienced a huge decrease over the last 15-20 years. It is still currently listed as a species of Special Concern on the Species at Risk (SAR) list, although it has been recommended by the COSEWIC committee to be listed as endangered.

 

Because of citizen science projects like the tagging program through MonarchWatch, we are able to have information and gather data on the Monarch population. Tagging adult Monarchs before they begin their migration is one of the best ways to help scientists monitor population dynamics.

 

Don't know what tagging a Monarch looks like? Watch our video below and come out to our annual event, Monarch Tagging Weekend! Learn more about the amazing story of the monarch butterfly, their migration, and how you can help.

 

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OVO: An Immersive Tour | Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil: OVO Ticket Giveaway

Cirque du Soleil OVO is coming to The First Ontario Centre in Hamilton, and we’re giving away free tickets!

How to Enter:

Visit Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory on May 14th (Mother’s Day) and receive a ballot with the purchase of admission. Draw will be made May 14th at 5:00pm, and we will contact the winner by email.

Purchase of admission to the Conservatory required, one ballot per admission.

“Rush Headlong into a New Ecosystem”

Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of insects – amazing ants, flexible fleas, and crazy crickets play, work, fight, and look for love in this non-stop show of energy in motion. OVO is teeming with life, and the insects get intensely curious when a mysterious egg appears…


Where: FirstOntario Centre

When: June 7-11, 2017

 

 

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How to Tag a Migratory Monarch

How to Tag a Migratory Monarch

Today the story of the Monarch's epic fall migration to Mexico is commonly told and taught in classrooms across North America. One can almost take it for granted that this is common knowledge today, but it actually wasn't that long ago that no one knew where the Monarchs disappeared to for the winter.

Most of our native insects overwinter in a part of their life cycle that is convenient for them to go into diapause (kind of like hibernation): usually the egg or chrysalis (cocoon) stage, sometimes the larval (caterpillar stage), even occasionally the adult insect. But the Monarch does not overwinter in any stage. Up until only 40 years ago, no one knew where the Monarch went.

Thanks to the inquisitive mind and tireless efforts of Dr. Urqhart and his wife, they discovered the Monarch's secret by placing tags on the wings of the butterflies. It started out as a small piece of paper with a simple code. People were asked to watch for these tagged monarchs and report where and when they saw them. Over years of doing this research, eventually a tagged monarch was found in the Sierra Madre mountain range 10,000 feet above sea level in the oyamel fir forests of Mexico.

Today people still tag monarchs, and it's not just done by professional scientists. Anyone can participate by purchasing tags and filling out the data sheet from the research group " MonarchWatch and tagging butterflies in their own yards. This citizen science research is still one of the main ways we're learning about Monarch migration pathways and factors affecting their population levels. It's a fun, educational, meaningful way to learn more about the wondrous animal that is the Monarch as well as contributing to valuable scientific research.

Join us for Monarch Tagging Weekend September 10th and 11th!

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Morning Yoga in the Conservatory

Morning Yoga in the Conservatory
Le Lam

Few of our guests have had the chance to experience the Conservatory in the early hours of the morning. The sense of stillness in the air is peaceful, the birds and butterflies just beginning to awaken, the quails wandering sleepily across the paths. Add in a calming meditation and vinyasa yoga practice, and your day is off to a great start.

Practicing yoga in the morning is great for physical, mental, and emotional health. "Morning practice can heighten our productivity and alertness throughout the rest of the day. Yoga postures gently massage the internal organs and boosts the body’s metabolism. After being awakened, the digestive system is far more efficient at releasing toxins and properly metabolizing the vitamins and minerals from our foods," says Le Lam, Certified Yoga Instructor. "Just as importantly, a morning practice is a great way to know you've done something for yourself before you start taking care of others."

We're lucky to have such a beautiful atmosphere to practice in, and Le's class is a welcome change from a typical studio practice. "One of the tips to create a life you love is to 'make a nature date,'" says Le. "Nature inspires awareness, tolerance, acceptance... and nothing is better than a breath of fresh air. As a very close replica of nature, the Conservatory is a great place to practice yoga."

When asked how the Conservatory's tropical temperatures affect the session, Le says, "at 25-28°C, the warm temperatures are a nice help to speed up the warm-up segment and enhance the whole practice."

Join us every Wednesday morning through to August 31st. Click here to register.

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