Today we were in the elementary school in Weißbach/Lofer with our butterfly workshop and expert Otto Feldner. The workshops are part of our project “Schmetterlingsreich“, funded by the Austrian ministry. This school is a “Naturparkschule” and is located in the middle of the Weißbach nature park. Large butterfly stickers greeted us right at the school entrance.
Accordingly, the 16 children of the 1st to 4th grade had already lots of knowledge about butterflies and insects in general. They already could name many species, including very rare ones like Chazara briseis. The kids even wore butterfly pants and shorts. Many told us about the caterpillars they found on stinging nettles in their gardens. Some children have even bred butterflies themselves, such as the little tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) or the peacock butterfly (Inachis io).
This time, Otto had caterpillars of the Viennese peacock moth (Saturnia pyri) with him, on leaves from the apple tree. This is the largest Austrian butterfly. The caterpillars are beautifully green with blue spots and long “hair” all over their body. The children were fascinated. Stinging nettle corners remain in the children’s gardens at home and they also take care that the meadows are not mowed too often. Hence, best conditions for the butterflies. Even the Red Apollo, which is a protected species throughout Europe, flies in this area. One girl had a dead tree white (Aporia crataegi) with her that she had found in the garden. Appropriately, Otto also had the pupal cases of the same species with him.
At the end, the kids made a swallowtail (Papilio machaon)-mask and “flew” around in the classroom. It was a great workshop in Weißbach and it was nice to see how much the children already knew about butterflies and their protection and with what enthusiasm they were involved. Many thanks to the children and their teachers!