Friday, July 02, 2010

Adventures with kids

Regular readers of Roundtop Ruminations might remember that my summer Thursdays are spent leading kids on walks in the woods. I want them to have fun and see some interesting things and get to experience the woods in a hands-on approach. Yesterday was a good session. The kids tasted sassafras, found a few ripe blackberries and raspberries, caught frogs and toads, found deer and raccoon tracks and startled a close chipmunk. We looked at Indian pipe fungus, puffballs and ferns. I showed them how to find an American beech tree or shagbark hickory by the distinctive bark on those trees.

Our best sighting was of a Clymene moth, which I’d never seen before. The kids saw it upside-down from this photo that I pulled off the butterflies and moth site and thought the markings on the back looked like a picture of an angel or a cross or maybe Jesus. The moth was previously recorded in York County, but Pennsylvania sightings are not recorded very often. That may be more a function of the number of people who pay attention to moths—not very many—than the moth itself.

The word Clymene is the name of several Greek goddesses in mythology. One is the goddess of fame and infamy. Another is a woodland nymph who is the wife of Helios the sun god. This last makes some sense as the moth is said to be often found in woodlands on hot summer days but will also come to lights at night. It prefers deciduous forests and is found during June through August. The range maps show it to be most common in Missouri and Kentucky, with sightings ranging as far as eastern Texas and up into Massachusetts and southern Vermont.

I certainly wish I’d had my camera with me when we found it, but I don’t carry my camera when I hike with the kids. I want to focus on them, not on taking photos!

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