I often think about how to influence my neighbors in the direction of planting natives and observing the biodiversity in our back yards. We live adjacent to an urban forest and our yards are key in developing a biological corridor. How do we deepen our garden conversations ? How do we invite more caterpillars, butterflies and silk moths? Have a party of course! On August 16th my family hosted “My Wild Backyard Party” for the neighborhood.
My original hope was to set up a mothing light and sheet during National Moth Week, yet was concerned about the late hour moths come around. Who would stay up until 2 am? Neighbor Brandt Smith persisted about scheduling the moth viewing until I realized how handy his projector could be in showing off the wild world at a decent hour for families. So it was scheduled, and Brandt even crafted butterfly & moth t-shirts as a surprise.
Ice cream was an engaging feature, along with a time lapse slide show of the kids over the last 12 years. The main feature was a slide show of my backyard wild life, with a heavy dose of moths which I’ve been documenting this summer. I enjoyed telling stories about checking the garage door each morning; the shy behavior of the spicebush swallowtail larvae; the wasp egg guarded by the zombie caterpillar; the eggs laid by the Isabella Tiger Moth I had taken for dead; the eyelash mites on the crane fly, and more. I showed slides of folded leaves and nectaring butterflies. I shared Judy Burris & Wayne Roger’s books to show off their model of this treasure hunting hobby that has been so engaging for me. I preached about the benefits of native plants and the dangers of euonymus to our forests.
I am hoping to earn a “Nature-nut” reputation around the neighborhood. Next spring I plan to give out spice bush plugs & a native plant info-sheet, hoping that folks will ask more questions and share their own discoveries. You, too, can start organizing your pictures and choosing your stories for a “wild” party. If you do not have a projector, consider renting one. Exposing the macro world in a format larger than life can win friends over to slow down and look beyond the flowers and tomato plants.
Judy Ganance, August, 2013