Author Archives: Kim Smith

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com. Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"

The Traveling Terrarium

No, That is Not a Monarch Caterpillar on Your Carrot Plant

anderson-family-copyright-kim-smith

By far the most popular post on my Kim Smith Designs website is titled “No, That is Not a Monarch Caterpillar on Your Parsley Plant.” It has been the most trafficked post for several years, if you can believe it, and here is why.

Last fall, almost exactly to the day, through my office window I heard the sound of sweet voices on our front porch, well after dark, and wondered what our neighborhood dog walkers were doing out so late. It wasn’t dog walkers, but our neighbor Sharon and her son Treely, wondering what to do with what they thought was a Monarch caterpillar they had found in their garden. I sent them on their way with one of our terrariums and instructions on how to care for their little Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

Treely’s Black Swallowtail caterpillar turned into a chrysalis (in other words, pupated), spent the winter in the terrarium in a sheltered spot outdoors, and then emerged right on schedule this past spring. The Dowds returned the terrarium as it was needed later in the summer for our Cecropia Moth caterpillars.

Imagine how sweetly funny to get a call from my friend Michelle, wondering what to do with their newly discovered Monarch caterpillar. My first question to Michelle was did she find the caterpillar on her milkweed? No, she reported, it was found on carrot foliage. Michelle and her children, Meadow and Atticus, along with friend Sabine, stopped by this afternoon to learn about how to take care of their tiny little Black Swallowtail caterpillar and I sent them on their way with the ‘traveling terrarium.’

If you find a caterpillar in your garden, the first clue to identifying is to see on what food plant they are munching. Caterpillars that are actively feeding are usually only found on their larval host plant(s), the plant they have developed a distinctive coevolutionary relationship with over millennia. For example, female Monarch butterfly caterpillars deposit their eggs only on members of the milkweed family. Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat the foliage only from plants in the carrot family, which includes carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, parsnips, and Queen Anne’s lace. You may have noticed if ever weeding Queen Anne’s lace that the root looks identical in shape to a carrot, only it is white.

Chances are, you will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on you milkweed plants and conversely, you will never find a Monarch caterpillar on your carrot plant (or parsley, dill, or fennel).

I am excited to hear from Michelle and the kids how their little caterpillar is developing over the next few weeks!

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Vote Today to Choose the Massachusetts State Butterfly

Here’s how you can help choose the Massachusetts state butterfly –

The choice is between the Black Swallowtail, the Great Spangled Fritillary, and the Mourning Cloak butterflies. All three are beautiful species of Lepidoptera, but as you know from my work, I am partial to the Black Swallowtail. I cast my vote for the Black Swallowtail and here is why. Both the Great Spangled Fritillary and Mourning Cloak are less commonly seen. I’d like children who are developing an interest in butterflies to have the opportunity to get to know their state butterfly easily. Black Swallowtails are widespread and very well-known. In a good year, Black Swallowtails will have two broods. The caterpillars eat plants kids can easily identify and plant, such as carrots, dill, fennel, parsley, and the common wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. Black Swallowtails are typically on the wing throughout the summer, beginning in early spring through early autumn.

On the other hand, the Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars eat strictly violet plants. This butterfly is usually only seen for about a month, during mid-summer, and has one brood of caterpillars. In our region of Massachusetts, the Mourning Cloak may have a second brood, if we have an early spring, but I only see them in spring, near pussywillows, and again in the fall when they are getting ready to hibernate.

Black Swallowtails are found in backyards, gardens, meadows, marshes, and along the shoreline. They love to drink nectar from wildflowers, including milkweed (as you can see in the short film below) and many, many common garden plants such as lilacs, coneflowers, zinnias, and butterfly bush.

Please vote here: VOTE MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUTTERFLY

great-spangled-fritillary-coneflower-gloucester-harborwalk-copyright-kim-smithGreat Spangled Fritillary nectaring from coneflower, Gloucester Harbor Walk Butterfly Gardens

mourning_cloak_butterfly_in_south_central_alaskaMourning Cloak Butterfly courtesy Google image search

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Annes's Lace -3 ©Kim smith 2015Queen Annes's Lace ©Kim smith 2015Although not a native North American wildflower, Queen Anne’s Lace has adapted to our climate well, reportedly growing in every state save for Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. A member of the Umbelliferae, or Carrot Family, Queen Anne’s Lace also goes by the common names Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, and Bishops’s Lace. The root of young plants, although white, tastes like a carrot, and when rubbed together between fingers, the foliage smells of parsley (also a member of the Umbel Family).

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copyQueen Anne’s Lace is a caterpillar food plant of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Don’t despair butterfly lovers. Although the butterflies have been slow to awaken this year, I have high hopes that just as flowering plants are several weeks behind, so too will the the butterflies emerge–only later than expected.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015

O’MALEY INNOVATION SIXTH GRADE BUTTERFLY GARDEN A SMASHING SUCCESS!!!

Plant and They Will Come!

The proof is in the caterpillars!

IMG_2348 2nd Instar Black Swallowtail Caterpillar ~ Willa Brosnihan Photo

Monday I had the great joy of being given the grand tour of the O’Maley Innovation School Butterfly Garden recently installed by Mrs. McGrath’s sixth grade class. We first had a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly and then went out to the garden to see the very same caterpillars!

The garden hits all the right notes with caterpillar food plants and colorful nectar-rich, butterfly attracting flowers. With the bed dug entirely by the students (you can see by the surrounding beds that the soil must have been incredibly compacted), prepped, and all planting done by the kids it is truly a fabulous accomplishment. You’ll see amazingly adorned handmade and beautifully painted informational signs and butterfly baths.

The garden was made possible though an award winning project created by students Emma Duckworth, Willa Brosnihan, and Kelsey Lowthers. For more information see the Awesome Gloucester Foundation O’Maley Butterfly Garden project page here .

IMG_2353Emma Duckworth Photo

Emma, Willa Kelsey Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2015Project creators Emma, Willa, and Kelsey

Hand painted water dish for butterflies and birds. 

IMG_2328Willa photographing caterpilarsWilla photographing caterpillars

O'Maley Sixth Grade Butterfly Gardeners ©Kim Smith 2015See More Photos Here Continue reading

Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club Has Some Nice Things to Say About My Recent Screening and Q and A at Ebsco

Marion Frost, two time past President and six time Program Chair for the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club, wrote a very kind note about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and Q&A.

Hi Kim,

How often does something you’ve looked forward to for a long time live up to your expectations? Not often. But last night at Ebsco your presentation, including your film, your comments and your Q&A were just about perfect in my book! I’ll smile as I remember the evening.

I liked having the trailer for the monarch film first. You gave the group something to look forward to. Jesse Cook’s music is an excellent choice, I think. I drum to his music often. I was pleased with the questions and with your answers. It’s obvious you’ve done a lot of research. The way you answered questions made the group comfortable. Very nice! And the film. What can I say. I’d seen clips, but seeing the whole thing was something I won’t forget. I especially liked your reference to other butterflies and your comparison of the swallowtail with the monarch. Liv’s voice was just right for the commentary!

I know from experience that the presenter is the harshest critic of the presentation. I hope you were feeling pleased with your work last night. I’d be happy to repeat the whole evening!

I’m wishing you well with the editing.

All the best to you,

Mim

Thank you Mim. It was my joy! You and your fellow club members were so receptive and interested, it was truly a pleasure to give my presentation to the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club! Many thanks again for your kind words.

Please see the Programs page of my website for a complete listing of presentations.

Berkshire Museum Presents My Butterfly Documentary and Lecture Saturday September 20th

[PITTSFIELD, MA] – The Berkshire Museum will present a workshop and documentary screening with landscape designer and filmmaker Kim Smith on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Both events are included with regular Museum admission. The slide-illustrated talk, Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden, begins at 10 a.m.and the screening of the film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail, will follow the talk, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Both programs are part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series.

Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden

Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m.

Following the rhythm of the seasons, Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Pollinator plant list handout included with workshop.

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Saturday, September 20, 11:30 a.m. (time approximate; screening follows workshop)

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. The film was shot in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A discussion and Q & A with Kim Smith, the filmmaker, will follow the screening. Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is the first film in a trilogy about butterflies and will be followed next year by Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.

Black swallowtail Butterfly finger ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

About Kim Smith

Kim Smith is a filmmaker, designer, author, illustrator, photographer, and naturalist who documents, in a variety of media, the world around her. She is the author and illustrator of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, publisher, 2009). Kim’s landscape and interior design firm, Kim Smith Designs, works with clientele to create highly individualized homes and gardens, and she specializes in creating butterfly and songbird habitat gardens in public spaces. Smith is a daily contributor to the stellar community blog Good Morning Gloucester. 

 MAP to BERKSHIRE MUSEUM, thanks to Cat Ryan!

About the Berkshire Museum

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. Admission to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $2 per person. For more information, visit Berkshire Museum or call 413.443.7171.

In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Butterflies is on view throughOctober 26, 2014. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is currently on view. Little Cinema is open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.

SEE PREVIOUS POST ABOUT BUTTERFLIES! AT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail at the Lowell Film Festival April 29, at 6:30pm!

I hope you can come join me for an evening of screenings and Q and A at the 2014 Lowell Film Series. My film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is playing, along with Whales of Gold, a film by Lucia Duncan, about the gray whale migration and how to conserve habitat and species in a way that also sustains the livelihoods of local people.

About the film: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated documentary that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The location of the screening is at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street, Lowell. Click this link to read more about the series.

The 2014 Film Series: Land, Air, and Water is offered in partnership by the Lowell Film Collaborative and the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust.

Click here to visit the film’s website: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

black-swallowtail-habitat-good-harbor-beach-gloucester-ma-© kim-smith-2011-copyBlack Swallowtail Habitat ~ The Wildflower Meadow at Good Harbor Beach

BomBom Butterflies, Voted People’s Choice Award Rockport Short Film Festival 2013