Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
Summer 2009             

Dear Junior Ranger,
When I was a girl my sisters teased me and called me a "Nature Nut".  I guess my interests were different from those of most girls my age. My favorite activities included collecting insects and reading bug books. From that experience however, came one of my favorite memories - watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis.  It still seems like magic to me that a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly!
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks
Also in this Issue:
* Cool Critter Contest
* Meet an Interpretive Ranger
* More About Butterflies
* Moth Bait Recipe

* Summer Happenings
Cool Critter
Cool Critter
Can you identify this cool Georgia critter? 

Be the first Junior Ranger to correctly identify this animal and win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.
Meet An Interpretive Ranger
Jackie Clay with farm animals
Jackie Clay, Interpretive Ranger at General Coffee State Park is responsible for caring for the animals at the Park's Heritage Farm.  She is shown here at feeding time holding a baby lamb recently born at the Park.

Many of our Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites employ Interpretive Rangers. Their job is to help visitors learn about nature and history. 
Do you think YOU might want to be an interpretive ranger when you grow up?  Jackie shares her background in this special interview for Junior Rangers.

What inspired you to become a park ranger?
My first job was working as a summer naturalist for Georgia State Parks.  I loved it so much I never left!

What are your job responsibilities?
I take care all of the animals that we use for programs (like alligators, gopher tortoises and a variety of farm animals), lead programs for school groups and summer camps and I help to take care of the park.

What do you like most about your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with the children who come to our programs or visit the park.  I also enjoy meeting visitors who come to our park from other parts of the country - and sometimes even other parts of the world.

What advice would you give a Junior Ranger who may be interested in becoming a park ranger when they grow up?
Decide what kind of park job most interests you and take the college classes that would best help you do that job.

What did you study in college that helped you become a park ranger?
I have degrees in both Biology and Anthropology.  I took classes in chemistry, history, archaeology, botany, ecology, sociology, math and computer science.
Help Scientists Locate Milkweed
Monarchs Across Georgia is asking butterfly lovers across the state to help them identify places in Georgia where milkweed grows.  Milkweeds serve as the food plant for Monarch caterpillars.  The loss of milkweed patches across our landscape limits the Monarch population.
You can also grow your own milkweed to help Monarch caterpillars.
Nature Rocks Logo

The Children and Nature Network has recently created a national website called Nature Rocks.  This fun and user-friendly website makes it easy for families to find nearby outdoor places to explore and locate outdoor activities they can enjoy together.

More About Butterflies
Visit your local library and check out these titles:

The Butterfly Book: A Kid's Guide to Attracting, Raising and Keeping Butterflies by Kersten Hamilton.

Butterflies of Georgia Field Guide by Jaret C. Daniels
Gopher Paddling Canoe
Canoeing Tips

1.  Always wear a personal flotation device.

2. Wear old tennis shoes or water shoes and be prepared to get wet.

More Canoeing Tips
Join the Park Paddlers Club

Park Paddlers Club logoJunior Rangers and their families should check out Georgia State Parks' new Park Paddler's Club - paddle at six state parks and earn a t-shirt. 

Photo Credits:

Cool Critter, Caterpillar (Black Swallowtail), Red-banded Hairstreak: Giff  Beaton
Black Swallowtail, Spring Blue Azure: Rose Payne
Cabbage Butterfly: James. F. Flynn
Monarch: Earl W. Horn
Fiery Skipper: Nelson Dobbs
Canoeists: Linda Patrick
Tallulah Gorge Bridge: Diane Kirkland

State Parks Logo
Georgia Butterflies 
POOF - It Seems Like Magic!

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
It is truly one of the marvels of nature that creeping caterpillars can turn into beautiful fluttering butterflies. 
Watch this amazing change in
a time-lapsed video.  Better yet, go outside and collect a caterpillar along with its food plant and witness this amazing event for yourself. 
Caterpillars are picky eaters; be sure you collect only leaves from the plant that you find them on.  Also, remember where you collect the leaves so you can return to replenish your caterpillar's food supply.

Things to do:
* Use the link above to watch a video of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.  Collect and care for a caterpillar.
* Click on the links below to learn about a few common Georgia butterflies.

What Kind Is It?
Identifying butterflies takes some practice.  There are afterall over 160 different kinds of butterflies that call Georgia home.  Scientists lump Georgia butterflies into six groups taking into  consideration their size, color and patterns on their wings, shape of the wings and the way they fly.

Swallowtails - These large butterflies have obvious "tails" on their back wings.  Good examples are the Black Swallowtail Black Swallowtail Butterflypictured to the right (its caterpillar is pictured above) and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - our state butterfly and the Cool Critter pictured in the spring issue of the Georgia Junior Ranger.

Skippers - these chunky little butterflies have compact wings,Fiery Skipper and are usually brown, orange or white.  Their clubbed antenna have short distinct hooks at the tip. Fiery Skippers (pictured left) are common in open grassy areas.

Sulphurs and Whites - yellow or white Cabbage Butterflycolored, these small to medium sized butterflies are quick low fliers common in open disturbed areas. The Cabbage Butterfly pictured here is also found around gardens as the caterpillars eat the leaves of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Brushfoots - at first glance these butterflies Monarch Butterflymay look like they have four instead of six legs because the front legs are much smaller (and brush-shaped).  This group includes the well-known migrating, milkweed-eating Monarch.

Blues & Hairstreaks - Small and brightly colored this is the largest and most diverse group of Georgia butterflies.  Examples include the tiny blue Spring Azure and the Red-banded Hairstreak.
Red-banded Hairstreak Spring Azure

Things to do:

* Download a checklist of Georgia Butterflies
* Visit the Journey North Website to follow the migration of Monarch butterflies this fall

Recipe for Moth Bait

Moths and butterflies are close relatives.  While butterflies are typically active during the day, moths are usually active at night. Make a batch of moth bait and see which moths live in your backyard.
  1. Make a bowl of moth bait:  sugar, over-ripe bananas and molasses
  2. Paint the bait on tree trunks in your backyard right before dark.  Cover an area about the size of your hand on each trunk.
  3. Go out with a flashlight soon after dark and look to see who has been attracted to your bait.

Proboscis close-upA Butterfly Buffet

You can help butterflies by planting a butterfly garden.  Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar sucked up through their coiled "straw-like" mouth. Caterpillars eat the leaves of certain kinds of plants.

Have You Ever Wondered ?
Can caterpillars breathe inside the chrysalis?
Do butterflies go to the bathroom?

Find the answers to these questions and more or ask a lepidopterist your own questions. 

Things to do:
* Write down two questions you have about butterflies.  Go to the link above to see if you can find the answers.
* Make moth bait and find out what moths live in your backyard.
Summer Happenings
Cool summertime activities include exploring nature at night and paddling a canoe.
Enjoy these activities at upcoming State Park programs:

Full Moon Canoe Outings Aug. 7, Sept. 5
Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike Sept. 3

at Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge Suspension Bridge
Enjoy paddling on Tallulah Lake at night or enjoy a night hike that takes you across the suspension bridge that spans Tallulah Gorge.

Observatory Open House Aug. 29, Sept. 26
Hard Labor Creek State Park
GSU ObservatoryExplore the night sky at the Georgia State University Observatory located on the park.

Ruins to Rapids Full Moon Hike Aug. 5, Sept. 4 at
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek
Visit the ruins of the historic New Manchester textile mill as you hike past the rapids of Sweetwater Creek by moonlight.

Cathead Creek Canoe Excursion Sept. 19
Fort King George State Historic Site
Children Paddling Canoe
Paddle 3 miles through the old rice canals near Darien and look for wildlife.

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