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Environmental Projects High School Students
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Lori Said:An environmental project...?
We Answered:Your aims are laudable but may I respectfully point out that no-one likes to be lectured. There is a famous military saying "Lead from the front!". For Caesar this meant wearing a scarlet cloak (for high visibility) and being a vigorous and morale boosting presence in the thick of battle.
1) you find some prominent litter-strewn spot and arrange an event viz you in bright clothing picking it up YOURSELF. Have a banner/ friends with placards/ balloons that say "I care, do you?" and "Join me". Have computer printed handouts of your own devising at the ready plus extra pairs of rubbergloves/ binbags/ for any volunteers.
ALERT YOUR LOCAL PRESS in good time - it's a good story for them: "feelgood" if people join in, "shame of our community" if they don't".
DON"T do this if you live in a rough neighbourhood (see suggestion 2)..
DON'T do this if you can't organise some discreet backup. (Ask a local church/ environmental group/ council/ school)
2)Rear and release some butterflies - again as an "event" at a Church/ School/ local business
You can buy eggs commercially by mailorder. In the UK you should get Red Admirals or Small Tortoiseshells if you have access to nettles and Clouded yellows if not. (For the latter you will need to grow a couple of trays of clover (easy and cheap)).
You need two plastic boxes about 8 X 4 X 4 inches with tight fitting lids. When your eggs/caterpillars arrive you put a layer of kitchen paper or newspaper in the bottom of one of the boxes followed by a few leaves of the correct food plant. These MUST be FRESH and DRY or your larvae will become diseased. Put the lid on and leave them OUT OF STRONG SUNLIGHT (but not in the dark). The air in the box will be a more than sufficient source of oxygen - insects need far less than us. (The lid not only prevents the escape of your larvae but also prevents tiny parasitic wasps devastating your colony. In the wild up to 90% of colonial caterpillars are lost to parasites so your efforts will be a considerable improvement on nature!). Next day you put a layer of paper and some NEW leaves in the second box and transfer your caterpillars leaving as much of the soiled food from the previous day as possible (a BIT of nettle/clover with some larvae clinging to it is fine.) Use a fine paintbrush to transfer individual larvae when they are small, a bigger brush when they are bigger. Don't handle them - it's not good for them and many caterpillars are protected by hairs that are highly irritating to human skin. Throw the soiled lining paper from the original box away but don't wash the box if you can avoid it - chemical residues can be harmful and the boxes MUST be kept DRY. The caterpillars grow at an amazing rate, you just need to make sure that their daily rations increase. The air in their box of residence will continue to be sufficient. One day you will find they have pupated - turned into chrysalises. "Chrysos" is Greek for gold and Small Tortoiseshell pupae look as though they've been gilded! You need to make sure the lid and box are separated from that point so that if the butterflies emerge when you're not there they can fly freely. If chrysalises are hanging from the lid it will need to be supported on something so that they are unobstructed. Small Tortoiseshell chyrsalises turn completely transparent just before emergence so you can see the wings inside. MAGIC! - and really interesting for your audience. Most people are thrilled to see them come out and fly off.
Using one of these methods you should have some supporters and then you can think of a bigger project - or perhaps get others to do the same sort of things? Your efforts will look great on a CV.
I admire your wanting to make the world a better place and wish you every sucess in your endeavours.
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