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Winging it

Guilderland middle schoolers host annual butterfly exhibit

Butterflies interact with visitors at Guilderland's Farnsworth Middle School.

Butterflies interact with visitors at Guilderland's Farnsworth Middle School. Submitted photo

— Every year, Farnsworth Middle School gets a shipment of caterpillar eggs.

And then the fun begins.

Students at the school raise butterflies, which they move into the butterfly house in a courtyard at the school. The butterflies mate, and soon the house is full of colorful creatures -- never moreso than this year, when a bumper crop of butterflies has been fluttering around.

The butterfly station is open to the public for one final week, wrapping things up on Friday, Aug. 12. Head over to the school between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and you’ll get a glimpse not only of butterflies, but of kids who willingly giving up part of their summer vacation to teach people more about butterflies.

“What makes this special is that it’s student run,” said science teacher Jennifer Ford, who helps oversee the station.

On a recent afternoon, Ford stayed largely in the background, letting the students guide tours, paint faces, explain the metamorphosis process and run the gift shop and museum. She has complete confidence in her helpers, noting that each must go through a week of training before they can take part.

Andrea Musteata is going into seventh grade. She decided to spend part of her summer back at school because she likes butterflies which was evident as she led a tour of the butterfly house. Musteata explained that because of the recent rainy weather, a lot of the butterflies were in hiding. Even when they did emerge, it wasn’t necessarily easy for them to fly because the rain had sapped their flight power, she said.

Those that did fly swooped around the butterfly house, sometimes grazing or even landing on visitors. Musteata told everyone not to be startled if they found a butterfly on them. In fact, more than once, she reached for a butterfly and coaxed it on to her hand. Then she asked visitors if anyone wanted to hold it, carefully transferring it to that person’s hand.

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