Sunday, May 12, 2013

Butterflies for Mother's Day

This year for Mother's Day, my son is out of the country and my daughter is fifteen. I wasn't sure I could get either of them to do anything fun with me for Mother's Day. When I saw on Facebook that Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park was having a Butterfly Hike for Mother's Day, I took a chance and asked my daughter to join me. She said "yes" and for a week or so, my excitement was building. I've never gone on a butterfly hike and thought that it sounded like an excellent way to spend the day. My gift this year was Butterflies for Mother's Day.

Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is about 30 minutes from my town of Bossier City, Louisiana. The 160 acre park is dedicated to helping citizens of Northwest Louisiana connect with nature by conserving a pine-oak-hickory forest for interpretation and recreation.

big headed bones
As my daughter, Laura, and I arrived at the park, we first sat down at the picnic area and had lunch. We had never been to this park and were immediately struck by the surrounding nature and bird sounds. After eating, we went inside the Interpretive Building and explored the exhibits. We found examples of the many species of plant and animal life found in the Northwest Louisiana area. There was a working bee hive, a live soft shelled turtle, several varieties of reptiles and many preserved models of wildlife.

Laura and I were excitedly waiting for about 45 minutes for our hike to begin. John is the former park naturalist who would be leading our Butterfly Hike, he was filing in for the day. Along with John was Kim, the Park Ranger and Naturalist. There were several families who also came out to experience the nature walk. Each of the children were given butterfly nets to assist in our search for butterflies for Mother's Day. John started the walk by explaining to us that there were three things that we might see on the hike: butterflies, moths and skippers. We would focus just on butterflies for the day. We learned that butterflies usually held their wings straight up and together when they landed. We were told that because butterflies don't get very much salt in their diet that they would often land on humans to lick the sweat for salt.

So off we went in search of butterflies. John told us many ways to look for butterflies. He told us to always look for the flowers. Not just any flowers, but the types of flowers that are made specifically for butterflies. Flowers that are fragrant, have nectar and also have petals that are flat for landing. Butterflies are cold-blooded, so like to sometimes lay their wings in the sun to get warm. He also said that butterflies have scales on them to protect from getting caught in spider webs. Very interesting stuff. We saw several butterflies and caught a moth or two along the way.  


Is it a Butterfly, a Moth or a Skipper?

In addition to the search for butterflies, we were exposed to many of the beautiful plant life found in the woods of the park. We were shown the milkweed, the may apple, thistle and the sassafras. John (with permission from the park ranger) pulled a sassafras root and let us smell it. ROOTBEER!! It smelled like rootbeer. In fact, sassafras makes rootbeer and gumbo file'. But my favorite plant in the woods was the honeysuckle. It's been many years since I pulled the stem from a honeysuckle and licked the nectar. That sure brought back memories. It was fun watching all the kids licking their honeysuckle stems.

If you haven't had a chance to visit this park, I recommend that you make plans to do so. It's a great place to take a hike and reflect on nature. There are five miles of hiking trails with wayside exhibits, a picnic pavilion, an herb garden, an outdoor area with captive raptors and deer. Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is located at 8012 Blanchard Furrh Road, Shreveport, Louisiana and is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. (answer to the video is:  Goat weed leaf wing butterfly)

I've scanned the brochure of upcoming events for Summer 2013, check it out!

Keep on livin' it up!
Robin Rials Williams





Soft Shelled Turtle