Identify and look after cute, creepy caterpillars
Published: Sunday, July 29, 2001
Caterpillars are cool creatures -- even ones that like to
devour my plants.
My favorite is the spicebush swallowtail with its green to yellow body and large orange
and black eyespots. He looks so prehistoric -- in a nonthreatening, cute sort of way. I
call him the cartoon character of the caterpillar world. Naturally, he nibbles on
spicebush, along with some sassafras for dessert.
The caterpillar that transforms itself into the red-spotted purple butterfly looks more
like a bird dropping than a caterpillar. The cream caterpillar, which has a humped back
with a darker saddle, feeds on apple, cherry, hawthorn, poplar and willow.
The ravenous monarch butterfly larva is white with yellow and black stripes and long
black filaments at either end. It adores milkweed.
If you have not learned how to recognize these precious predators in your gardens,
there's an upcoming event that promises the perfect opportunity to schmooze with some of
the best-educated butterfly enthusiasts in Hampton Roads.
Butterfly Festival 2002 -- Caterpillars are Cool takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at
Norfolk Botanical Garden. Sponsored by the Butterfly Society of Virginia, the
family-oriented event will teach you how to make caterpillar-rearing cages, how to create
a backyard butterfly habitat and how to identify caterpillars and butterflies common to
home gardens. A plant sale features hard-to-find nectar and host plants, books, special
Caterpillars are Cool T-shirts and novelties.
Speakers and topics include:
* 11:30 a.m., tips on identifying butterflies by Bill Shealy
* 12:30 p.m., gardening to attract butterflies by Jeanne Pettersen
* 1:30 p.m., finding and raising caterpillars by Ruth Burch
* 2:30 p.m., self-defense, butterfly style, by Teta Kain
You also can enjoy guided tours of the Bristow Butterfly Garden and the adjacent
four-season garden filled with wildflowers frequented by butterflies.
Admission to the gardens and festival is $1 with a special discount coupon. To get
coupons, contact Ruth Burch at 499-6789 or e-mail bfly-society-ruth@ juno.com; Don Snipes,
625-7143 or e-mail email@example.com; or Jim Hutson, 479-9674 or e-mail jwhut1@ juno.com.
The gardens are located at 6700 Azalea Garden Road; take the Norview Avenue exit off
Interstate 64 and follow the signs. They are adjacent to Norfolk International Airport.
Remember, the Virginia Living Museum's butterfly house with educational pollination
station also is open through summer; call 595-1900.
HELP KIDS GARDEN. I spent part of a nice summer afternoon with children who like to
garden at the C. Waldo Scott Center on 31st Street in Newport News. The kids, ages 6-12,
eagerly told me about their favorite flowers and vegetables. We chatted about good and bad
bugs and why bees and butterflies are important in our gardens. After we potted up some
salvia plants in cups for them to take home, I visited their vegetable and flower garden
along a protected outdoor corridor at Huntington Middle School.
These kids are great gardeners, raising everything from tomatoes and carrots to
watermelons and zucchini. Marigolds add bright touches of color.
Trouble is the kids need tools to garden. For now, they use tools lent to them by the
middle school. Ebbie Samuel and Doris Freeman, who work with these young gardeners, say
they need long-handled shovels, hoes and rakes. A tiller -- new or a used one in good
condition -- would be greatly appreciated because the gardening area is filled with tough
If you have unwanted tools to donate, you can bring them to me at the Daily Press
office, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, and I will take them to the center. Or, you can
deliver them or a tiller directly to the center. Contact Ebbie or Doris at 244-9223.
There's nothing better than encouraging a child to garden.
USING WASTWATER. Waste not water because it's precious. That's a given. You can learn
how wastewater is being tested and used to irrigate turf and landscape plants commonly
used in Hampton Roads during a free Field Day 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Aug. 7.
The event will be held at Hampton Roads Sanitation District Virginia Initiative Plant,
4201 Powhatan Ave., Norfolk (behind Old Dominion University). Sponsors are Virginia
Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Hampton Roads Sanitation District and Hampton Roads
Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Four turfgrass plots and six raised beds have been planted and are being maintained
with wastewater and potable water for comparisons.
For information or to register, contact Norfolk extension agent Dawn Alleman, 683-2816
HAPPENINGS. Tuesday is the last day to apply for Peninsula master gardener training
this fall. To apply, contact your local extension office.
* Pick your own blackberries and blueberries at Fiddler's Green Berry Farm, Gloucester.
Hours: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday-Saturday, 3-7 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. Cost:
blackberries $7 per 5-quart bucket, blueberries $6 per 5-quart bucket. The farm is located
at 5580 Fiddler's Green Road; call (804) 693-5568.***