A few years ago, Granddaughter went wandering with a friend in the woods behind our home. Suddenly she burst in the door, excitedly proclaiming, “Come on, Papa John! We found something!”

“What did you find?” I asked.

“C’mon. We’ll show you!”

Imperial moth spreads its yellow and purple cape across a branch of maple leaves.

Imperial moth spreads its regal cape across a panoply of maple.

And off we went to see what turned out to be an Imperial Moth, a huge thing — especially to a pair of little humans — clad in a yellow cape with purple markings, spread regally across several oak leaves. I got a few pictures and went home, glad the little girls were not afraid of bugs.

Many of us are unnecessarily afraid of bugs, not counting those of us who have reason to fear being stung by certain six-legged beings. On the other hand, many of our insect problems are thanks to marketing by companies selling the solution to those problems.

Some insects are seemingly only pretty to look at, but as they flutter from plant to plant, offering their flag-like wings and furry bodies as eye candy for humans and food for birds, they provide pollinating services for plants we eat. In our home county, that means they keep apples, grapes and various vegetables growing.

An Eastern Black Swallowtail chrysalis attached to a twig

An Eastern Black Swallowtail, attached to a twig will soon become a beautiful butterfly

Butterflies and moths will soon be bursting onto the scene, just about when a wide variety of birds will be hatching their young. The timing is not an accident; it is food on the wing for all those baby bluebirds, jays and wrens that will grow up to assist the pollinating services industry.

Introducing Carol Pasternak, of Toronto, Canada. Pasternak is known in Canada as “the Monarch Crusader” and author of two books on butterflies: How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: a Step by Step Guide for Kids and 5 Butterflies, which focuses on the life cycles of Monarch Butterflies, Eastern Black Swallowtails, American Ladies, Question Marks, and the Cecropia moth. Both books are kid-friendly and intended for children ages seven to ten.

Eastern Blac Swallowtail on a mint stem

An Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar strolls along a mint stem. It will soon molt into a chrysalis, then become a beautiful adult butterfly.

She is slated this weekend to present two programs in Gettysburg introducing kids and adults to the care and feeding of butterflies, especially Monarch butterflies. The programs — Saturday afternoon at the Gettysburg Rec Park and Sunday morning at St. James Lutheran Church — are sponsored in partnership with the Gettysburg Green Gathering and the Adams County Farmers Market.

“Carol will have a lot to share with young kids,” Steve Zimmerman, co-chair of the Green Gathering said, “But also some useful information for adults as well. She’ll provide a step-by-step introduction to raising Monarch butterflies, and a real hands-on experience for the young ones in the family.

The Saturday program will take place April 29 at 1:00 p.m. at the Charles Sterner Building at the Gettysburg Recreation Park. The program is in conjunction with the Adams County Farmers Market opening day of the 2023 season. The market will open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by Pasternak’s presentation.

To register for the Saturday event, visit the Gettysburg Green Gathering website at www.gettysburggreengathering.com. The event is free, but seating is limited, hence the registration requirement. Last-minute drop-ins will be welcome as long as seats are available. Zimmerman said Thursday evening seating was still available for the Saturday morning presentation.

Question Mark butterfly on a Hosta plant

A Question Mark butterfly perches among the leaves of a Hosta plant.

AFrom noon to 1 p.m., the public will be encouraged to stop by the Sterner Building to chat with members of local community organizations who will be staffing information tables in the building. A variety of groups will be represented including the Gettysburg Garden Club, the Adams County Watershed Alliance, the Land Conservancy of Adams County, the Green Gettysburg Book Club, Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and others.

The second presentation, also free, will take place Sunday, April 30, at 9:30 a.m. in the Gathering Area at St. James Lutheran Church, corner of York and Stratton Streets in Gettysburg. The public is invited to both presentations, especially families with young children.

©2023 John Messeder. John is an award-winning environment columnist and social anthropologist, and lives in Gettysburg, PA. He may be contacted at john@johnmesseder.com