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September 2017

Naturalists raise, launch Monarch butterflies

Naturalists raise monarch butterflies
Naturalists at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Treehouse are raising and launching monarch butterflies. In the Andorra meadow a short distance above the Trreehouse, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staffers Christina Moresi and Maris Harmon harvest milk weed leaves on which monarch butterflies have laid their small white eggs. They bring the leaves down to the Treehouse where the eggs hatch into caterpillars. They demand an abundant supply of milkweed leaves to munch on and grow. Moresi has filmed the whole metamorphosis. The grown caterpillars will climb to the top of a screen mesh and spin into milky green colored pupae. As the pupae mature, their casings become translucent and the butterflies' distinctive orange markings become visible. Finally the encapsulated butterflies emerge out of the bottom and pump blood to stretch out their new wings.
The naturalists place a small round tag on each newborn's wing and register it in an online database so if it is found in Mexico or en route, it can be identified. Moresi (right in photo) explains that the butterflies which lay their eggs in the Andorra are the fourth generation of butterflies migrating from hibernation in Mexico. Before they are released, the young monarchs are fed a rich diet of nectar and become flight worthy in a tall netted enclosure. The Center announces when they are about to release a group of monarchs. They are bound for Mexico, an extraordinary 2000 mile journey.
(Interviewer's Note: Conservationists have been actively engaged in combating a severe long term decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, a beautiful and important pollinator, that has been attributed to habitat loss from logging and pesticide use)

Watch monarchs metamorphosis and interview here 


Toss a Bean Bag for Racial Unity

​ Toss bean bag for racial harmony
Aron Goldschneider and his fine artist step-father designed a circular racial unity logo to counter the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the times. According to his website,  www.standforracialunity.com, racial harmony is a personal matter; he grew up on a block as a minority white kid and his wife is a Japanese national. Their daughter, Bronwyn (shown in lower photo panel above) and her friends Ameer Johnson and Claire Gunawan were out at the Mt Airy Village Fair on Sunday September 17 selling t-shirts and car magnets bearing the design. For a small donation fairgoers got 5 turns to toss a bean bag through the empty center of the logo mounted on a large board for the chance of winning a t-shirt or magnet. Proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center to support its legal fights for racial, economic and LGBTQ justice. The students have been successfully bringing their racial unity t-shirt campaign to their diverse Philadelphia high schools. Watch bean bag toss for racial harmony video and interview here


Iconic photos of Wissahickon in new exhibit

​ Wissahickon photos curator
​In celebration of its 50th anniversary the Chestnut Hill Conservancy ( formerly the Chestnut Hill Historical Society) has joined its longtime partner, the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) to mount an exhibition of iconic historical photos of the Friends housed in the Conservancy archives. Co-curators Alex Bartlett and Giulia Morrone (shown above) were on hand at the opening of the exhibit on Wednesday September 13 and discussed how they whittled down their selection to the fourteen large reproductions that the FOW hallway exhibition space could accommodate. Among the noteworthy photographs are one of African-Americans fishing in the creek across from Wissahickon Hall, formerly an inn but more recently home to a police department district. The bicentennial photo of many revelers parading down Forbidden Drive on Wissahickon Day, some in a covered wagon, stands out because photos of one or two upscale riders were more common. A favorite is one of people skating on the frozen creek. These and the other photos reveal what Bartlett says are some of the hidden histories of the Wissahickon.