Winging it in Guilderland

Musteata detailed how to tell the difference between male and female monarch butterflies -- the male has "perfume" spots -- noted that painted lady butterflies are so small that they're hard to see, pointed out the colorful flowers in the garden that butterflies enjoy and paused at a memorial to the Space Shuttle Columbia, recalling how Farnsworth students had sent plants native to the Albany Pine Bush to the shuttle crew to take into space.

Outside the butterfly house, Musteata said toads are sometimes spotted nearby, and students try to chase them away lest they harm the butterflies.

"We don't hurt the toads," she said, explaining that they're put in a nearby swamp. "They are alive. They're animals. It's not their fault."

Down the hallway from the butterfly house is the metamorphosis room, where dozens of caterpillars are stored in plastic containers. The caterpillars, of course, eventually turn into butterflies and are moved outside. Visitors get to see the caterpillars in various stages of metamorphosis.

They can also make a butterfly craft in another room, where students help and paint faces. Lauren Boyce doesn't have a lot to do over the summer and thought helping at the butterfly station would be fun, so now she manages the arts and crafts room,cleaning it up and keeping an eye on supplies.

Ford said some students enjoy the station so much that they come back even after they graduate from middle school. A college student even recently contacted her and asked if she could put in some hours at the station before her summer job started. Ford said there was a waiting list for helpers this year.

The station is largely funded by grants. It's been harder in recent years to find as much money, but so far, the station has been lucky. This is its 13th year.

Farnsworth Middle School is at 6072 State Farm Road in Guilderland. Students inside the main entrance can direct visitors where to go.""

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