My son and I recently went to check out the butterflies with Young Naturalists. This was our first experience with a Young Naturalists program. Greg Fenty was our butterfly expert and we learned a lot. I didn’t know what to expect when we went but it was a lot of fun. They had our butterfly catching equipment for us to use and had enough for all the kids and the adults. He explained that he got the nets from a dollar store so we could all come on our own to collect bugs. He gave us some instructions on catching the butterflies (or anything else we wanted to see up close) and then everybody headed off on their own to see what was around. He warned us that the wind might stop us from getting to check out the butterflies up close but we could try! I love butterflies and would have loved to take a look at one but he was happy watching them fly around me. Young Naturalists provide fun for your little ones while also teaching them about nature.
We met at Northeast Swale. The last time we went was winter so I was glad we got a chance to return and explore the area without all the snow. We got our supplies (a net and an insect vial to hold the insect in for better inspection.) Greg told us how to use everything. We then took off down the trail (and off trail) to search for butterflies or anything else that wanted to come to spend some time with us.
The first insect my son caught was a cricket. He went between crickets and grasshoppers for the first part of our excursion. They were easy to catch and he loves watching them. We each had an observation vial so we would examine our find. Before getting something new to look at, we always made sure to say goodbye to our little friends while letting them back out to explore their world. My son wanted to keep them all but he knew they needed to go back to their insect family.
My first catch was a dragonfly. I love butterflies but there is something pretty magical about dragonflies as well. The wings are gorgeous and it was amazing to watch them up close. I spent the rest of our time trying to find more dragonflies to examine and make friends with. My son was pretty amazed by them too. We worked together to catch them safely.
Before we broke from the group, Greg told us he would be there for two hours but if anybody wanted to leave, it was fine. He didn’t expect people to stay if they needed to go. My kiddo and I could have spent all day out there if we had packed more food. Next time, we’ll bring a picnic. We looked at the flowers, inspected the insects, watched the butterflies and birds, and caught some dragonflies and other exciting insects. He ensured we knew the proper techniques for catching, observing and releasing insects. They were also around in case we had any questions and they suggested a great app to search the insects ourselves. We were also given pamphlets about butterflies in Saskatoon.
The last insect my son caught was a Broad-Winged Bush Katydid. We had just reached the two-hour mark and had to hurry back because my son had never been so proud. He wanted to show anybody that was left what he found. He talked about it the entire walk back to the group. He showed Greg right away and Greg helped us find out what it was. The last thing we did was let our little Katydid go.
It was such a fun day. We learned a lot and it was a free activity! We also learned how easy it is to get the supplies for a day on the trails. We were given the tools to find out what kind of insects we were finding and the best way to safely meet the insects. We didn’t catch a butterfly but neither of us was sad about that. We got to see them fly around and got up close and personal with some other amazing creatures. This was the last butterfly event of the summer but Young Naturalist has more events coming up and hopefully, this one will be back next summer!