The Butterfly and the Ants
CSIRO Publishing, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf…”
The opening sentence in one of the most popular children’s books ever written, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
But do butterflies really grow up by eating apples and pears and chocolate cakes? Or is there something more to their story?
The Butterfly and the Ants tells the story of Blue, a member of the Lycaenidae species of butterfly that is found around the world – a species that comprises about 25% of the world’s butterflies but which is unique because it is dependent on the special relationship the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises have with the ants that look after them. So while we are familiar with the basic life cycle of the butterfly, this adds not only another element but also a lot more detail about how that tiny egg emerges to be a beautiful gossamer-wing butterfly, usually with a touch of blue.
It introduces the reader to the concept of symbiosis setting up the potential to investigate which other creatures live in such relationships and underlining the need for children to understand that even if they take or move just one thing from an environment, it can have far -reaching effects.
This is a book for those who want to know more than the basics, that explains the process in clear and accessible detail that respects their intelligence – as all those from CSIRO Publishing do. There are teachers’ notes available that not only have a focus on the science but also help expand vocabulary and encourage students to use the “real” language, as well as to be more observant. Other elements support the information literacy process as they are encouraged to read the notes at the back, use the glossary and so on.