The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

The power of girls

Wow.  What girls these days can’t do…My daughter, for instance, is the one who set up this blog and also my Facebook page.  And recently two girls named Christa and Mia did a podcast with me (my first). It will probably not surprise you to hear that I do not know how to do a podcast.  But I told their dad/coach that when I was a shy little reader, I never knew I’d grow up to do so much public speaking, so I admire all they are learning.

In addition, you can find it on the web at:

As I’ve done signings, I’ve been hearing about girls doing monarch projects, girls with gardens, girls doing citizen science…which, in fact, is where I got a lot of the information for the citizen science that Lanie does.  I talked with people at the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab in Minneapolis, where kids count monarch caterpillars in different stages.  “What’s one hard thing for the girls that are citizen scientists?” I asked.

Here was one answer:

“The first instar is easy to spot.  But instar 2 or 3 or 4 can be tough to tell apart.  Kids want to go by size.  A better way is tentacle size.  (The tentacles at stages 2 and 3 are small, at 4 and 5 are large.)

Here was another answer:

“Kids really want to find monarchs, and they sometimes get frustrated if they don’t.  We have to convince them it’s just as useful if they go look at the milkweed patch and don’t find them–because it’s data.”

Some girls in Massachusetts asked me for some monarch factoids.  Here are some unusual ones that got my attention:

–No one quite knows, yet, how such a small insect manages to navigate thousands of miles to a place it’s never been.

–Hardly any living creatures can orient themselves using both latitude and longitude.  In fact, humans couldn’t do it for a looong time.

–Until 1975, scientists didn’t even know where the monarchs ended up when they flew south in the fall. 

–Female monarchs have a glue gland and can stick their eggs to the plant so the eggs don’t wash off in the rain.

–Stinkbugs attack monarch caterpillars by stabbing them and turning the caterpillar innards to liquid so they can suck those innards out.

–Monarch caterpillars keep predators from finding them by hiding their frass (scat) in folded leaves stuck together with silk or even shooting it in the air, so it doesn’t give away the caterpillars’ location.

Thanks to my girl for getting me started!

2 thoughts on “The power of girls”

  1. Jane, this is your older sister, reading your blogs! (Only I always called her Janie when we were little, and I can’t break the habit.) You go, girl!


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