In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children’s grandchildren that return south the following fall
Unlike most other insects in temperate climates, Monarch butterflies cannot survive a long cold winter. Instead, they spend the winter in roosting spots. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains travel to small groves of trees along the California coast. Those east of the Rocky Mountains fly farther south to the forests high in the mountains of Mexico. The monarch’s migration is driven by seasonal changes such as daylength and temperature changes.
Fat, stored in the abdomen, is a critical element of their survival for the winter. This fat not only fuels their flight of one to three thousand miles, but must last until the next spring when they begin the flight back north. As they migrate southwards, Monarchs stop to nectar, and they actually gain weight during the trip!
This website shows the progress of the Spring 2015 migration.
Stay tuned for our own Monarch metamorphosis at the Green Branch Library, where we’ll bring in a monarch egg and watch as it’s transformed into the beautiful butterfly.
Meanwhile, check out this book that has some great pictures of metamorphosis.
Monarch butterflies / Julie Murray.
Today is National Hot Dog Day! What’s your favorite recipe? Do you eat them plain? Do you eat them with ketchup and mustard? Or do you go all out and add toppings like tomatoes and jalapenos? For some interesting recipes, check out these sites and books! Happy cooking and grilling!
Why are summer weddings so popular? It goes back to Roman times, when June 1 marked the celebration of Juno, goddess of marriage and childbirth. There were practical reasons as well. Babies conceived in summer would be born the following spring, the best time for infant survival. Back in 1400s, late spring/early summer was a time when most people had just bathed after the long winter season, so they were freshly clean and flowers were blooming, adding to the sweet scents in the air.
Do you love a white wedding? Thank Queen Victoria of England for that. She wore a white gown to her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840 and started this trend, which is still going strong nearly two centuries later.
For more information on wedding planning and etiquette, check out 395.22 in our non-fiction area.
The library also has a wide variety of music CDs to keep your wedding reception rockin’.
Long live the love!
Has your family decide on where it wants to go on vacation this year? With the warm weather months here in the U.S., it might be a good time to get outside and go camping. Whether you are a first timer or veteran camper the library has some books that could help you pick the perfect spot.
This Saturday we will all gather to enjoy family, friends and celebrate our Nation’s independence. If you are going to a picnic, the Library has some great picnic cookbooks. If you find a good recipe that you would like to try you can join us for Cookbook Club’s outdoor meeting on Tuesday, July 14th where we will be sharing our best picnic food and recipes.
Fireflies may be our most beloved insects, but we know surprisingly little about them. Fortunately, what we do know about fireflies is fascinating. Here are 10 cool facts about fireflies.
- Fireflies, also called lightning bugs, are neither flies nor bugs.
Fireflies are actually beetles.Like all other beetles, they have hardened forewings called elytra, which meet in a straight line down the back when at rest. In flight, fireflies hold the elytra out for balance, and rely on their membranous hindwingsfor movement. These traits place fireflies squarely in the order Coleoptera.
- Fireflies are the world’s most efficient light producers.
Have you ever touched a light bulbthat’s been on for a while? If you did, you probably burned your finger! An average electric light bulb gives off 90% of its energy as heat, and only 10% as light. If fireflies produced that much heat when they lit up, they’d probably incinerate themselves. Fireflies produce light through an efficient chemical reactionthat allows them to glow without wasting heat energy. All 100% of the energy goes into making light.
- Fireflies “talk” to each other using light signals.
Fireflies don’t put on those spectacular summer displays just to entertain us. You’re actually eavesdropping on the firefly singles bar. Male fireflies cruising for mates flash a species-specific pattern to announce their availability to receptive females. An interested female will reply, helping the male locate her where she’s perched, often on low vegetation.
- Fireflies are bioluminescent throughout their life cycles.
We don’t often see fireflies before they reach adulthood, so you may not know that all stages of the firefly glow. Bioluminescence begins with the egg, and is present throughout the entire life cycle. In fact, all firefly eggs, larvae, and pupae known to science are capable of producing light. Scientists believe that larvae use the light to warn predators away, but we don’t know this for certain. Some firefly eggs will emit a faint glow when disturbed.
- Not all adult fireflies flash.
Fireflies are known for their blinking light signals, but not all fireflies flash. Some adult fireflies, most notably those that inhabit the western areas of North America, don’t use light signals to communicate. Many people falsely believe that fireflies don’t exist west of the Rockies, since flashing populations are rarely seen there.
- Firefly larvae feed on snails.
Firefly larvae are carnivorous predators, and their favorite food is escargot. Most firefly species inhabit moist, terrestrial environments, where they feed on snails or worms in the soil. But a few Asian species use gills to breathe underwater, where they feed on aquatic snails. Some species are arboreal, with larvae that hunt tree snails.
- Some fireflies are cannibals.
We don’t know much about what adult fireflies eat. Most don’t seem to feed at all, while some are believed to eat mites or pollen. We do know what Photurisfireflies eat, though – other fireflies! Photurisfemales enjoy munching on males of other genera. How do they catch their lightning bug cousins? See fact #8.
- Female fireflies sometimes mimic the flashes of other species.
The well-known femme fatales in the genus Photurisuse a trick called aggressive mimicryto make meals of other fireflies. When a male firefly of another genus flashes its light signal, the female Photurisfirefly replies with the male’s flash pattern, suggesting she is a receptive mate of his own species. She continues luring him in, closer and closer, until he’s within her reach. Then she eats him!
- Firefly luciferase is used in all kinds of medical research.
Scientists have developed remarkable uses for firefly luciferase in the research lab. Luciferase can be used as markers to detect blood clots, to tag tuberculosis virus cells, and to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in living organisms (hydrogen peroxide is believed to play a role in the progression of some diseases, like cancer and diabetes). Fortunately, scientists can now use a synthetic form of luciferase for these research purposes, as the commercial harvest of firefliescould put our native species at risk for population decline.
10. Some fireflies synchronize their flash signals.
Synchronous fireflies are one of the seven wonders of the insect world, in my opinion. Imagine thousands of fireflies lighting up at precisely the same time, over and over, from dusk to dark. This simultaneous bioluminescence, as its called by scientists, occurs in just two places in the world: southeast Asia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, right here in the U.S.A. North America’s lone synchronous species, Photinus carolinus, puts on its light show in late spring each year.
Monarch butterflies (VIP polinators) have a home being prepared for them at the Green Branch Library. The first steps are being taken to provide a habitat that will both draw the butterfly to the library’s reading garden and then provide adequate food and shelter to keep them returning here year after year. Our plan is to become a Certified Monarch Waystation by 2016.
Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
In the library’s reading garden, we have planted 16 milkweed plants of two varieties. If we are successful with our certification project, there will be monarch pictures in future blogs. Stay tuned!
To read more about the remarkable journey the Monarch makes every year, come to the Green Branch Library. Here is a sampling of what you might find.
June 18, 2015 is the 203rd Anniversary of the declaration of war for the War of 1812. This war was a not noticed by many in Great Britain because they were already fighting another war in Europe, against Napoleon. However, for individuals living in the very new United States of America and those living in what is now Canada–this war would change so many things and give birth to our national anthem.
Medicine and Surgery During the War of 1812
Monday, July 6, 6:30 pm
Presented by Sharon Myers, President of the William Wetmore Chapter of the Daughters of 1812. The typical soldier did not die of bullets during the War of 1812, but rather from germs. Infectious disease was the #1 killer. Learn how surgeon’s mate, Usher Parsons, single-handedly dealt with all the injuries of the men from the Battle of Lake Erie. His case mortality was a little more than 3% – the mortality rate during the Korean War was 2.5%. This PowerPoint presentation also includes information on physicians from Summit County during the War of 1812.
For more information, please see the following:
Please visit the following websites as well: