About Christopher Marley...

Hello Everyone,
In case you stumbled upon this site in an attempt to search for Christopher Marley's insect work, you should know that I am not him. Apparently, he was on CBS this morning, and lots of people have been e-mailing me thinking that I am him. I make similar artwork with real insects, but I am not affiliated with Marley. If you are trying to contact him, you'll have to contact his "people" at Pomagranate Publishing.
Perhaps you, like me, are enamored with Marley's work but cannot afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a piece of your own. If so, you should check out my online store, as my pieces are similar, but are smaller and much more affordable. My framed artwork starts at $40. http://www.aquakej.etsy.com/ is my online store.
Thank you!
Katie VanBlaricum

Monarchs in Space!

Here in Lawrence, KS, we're lucky to have Monarch Watch, a premier international organization that researches and works to conserve the Monarch Butterfly. Recently, they have taken things to a whole new level by launching Monarch caterpillars into space! Check out this article from our local paper, the Lawrence Journal World, then you can go to the Monarch Watch website for everything you ever wanted to know about Monarch butterflies (including how to raise your own!) http://www.monarchwatch.org/

The International Space Station is getting some unusual new temporary residents — monarch butterflies from Kansas University’s Monarch Watch program.

Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch, said that three butterfly larvae will be sent into space, and would be observed throughout their development.

Students in more than 425 schools across the eastern part of the country will follow along with the experiment, using kits from Monarch Watch to observe their own monarchs, comparing their results with the space experiment.

Cameras will be set up, and results will be shown on a Web site, www.monarchwatch.org/space.

“It’s going to be fun,” Taylor said. “The kids are going to be able to see the full process in their classrooms.”

Taylor said he doesn’t know how the monarchs will fare in the near-weightless environment, but whatever happens, scientists will learn more about the capabilities of the species.

KU’s Monarch Watch program, which tracks the migration patterns of the butterflies on an annual basis, got involved with the space program after developing an artificial diet that can sustain the animals in space.

Response from schools has been much higher than anticipated, Taylor said. He sent out an e-mail asking for 20 interested participants and received more than 1,000 replies.

The artificial diet — something it took Taylor more than 20 months and more than 90 failed attempts to create — may also have other applications for the program. Already, he said, he’s received offers to participate in projects such as mapping the monarch’s genome.

Ladybugs in Your House?

This time of year, I always notice ladybugs trying to get into my house and other buildings. In fact, there is one flying around in here right now! Why are they doing this? Read the following Q&As from "The Ladybug Lady" to find out:

Q. Why do ladybugs come into my house in the winter time?

A. Ladybugs are attracted to the light colored houses. Especially, homes that have a clear southwestern sun exposure. Older homes tend to experience more problem with aggregations due to lack of adequate insulation. The ladybugs come in through small cracks around windows, door ways and under clap boards. They want to hibernate in a warm, comfortable spot over the cold months of winter. Ladybugs gather in groups when they hibernate, so if you see one, you can be sure more will follow. The best way to keep them out is to repair damaged clap boards, window and door trim and to caulk small cracks.

Q. Once the ladybugs are in my house, will they eat anything?

A. No. Ladybugs don't eat fabric, plants, paper or any other household items. They like to eat APHIDS. Aphids are very small, but very destructive pest that feed on plants. (If you have rose bushes, you have probably seen aphids.) Ladybugs, while trying to hibernate in your house, live off of their own body fats. They also prefer a little humidity, but our homes are usually not very humid during the winter. In fact, they are rather dry causing most of your ladybug guests to die from dehydration. Occasionally, you might witness a ladybug in your bathroom getting a drink of water. Now, that's a smart lady!

Q. How can I get them out of my house?

A. If you don't have a lot, just leave them. They will leave when spring arrives. Disturbing them will only cause them to stress out leaving yellow markings on your walls. The yellow stuff is not waste matter, but rather, their blood. Ladybugs release a small amount of their blood which is yellow and smells, when they sense danger. Some people have said that it does stain on light colored surfaces.

Q. But, I really want the ladybugs out of my house!

A. Use a "shop vacuum". This type of vacuum is easy to use for collect ladybugs. When using this to vacuum up ladybugs, use a clean bag or pad the bottom with a cloth. After all is clean, release the unwelcome guests outside.

Q. Is there anything else I can use to get the ladybugs out of my house?

A. Yes. There is a product called a Ladybug Black Light Trap. It uses radiating black light to attract and contain the ladybugs.