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Nature & You: This Christmas, give the gift of life

You can start planning now to help munching caterpillars become beautiful swallowtail butterflies. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

You can start planning now to help munching caterpillars become beautiful swallowtail butterflies. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

This Christmas, give the gift of life

Make it a buggy Christmas.

Please let me explain.

The anticipation and excitement is about to reach its crescendo. Tomorrow is that most special day of the year. It's a time of gift-giving and other prominent displays of affection and love.

Lest we forget, Ma Nature's creatures could benefit from some of this heartfelt attention. To single out one wild critter in desperate need, I'd direct your attention to the swallowtail butterfly.

I know! I know! It's cold outside, and there's no reasonable expectation of having a delicate insect survive out there right now. Nevertheless, it is none too early to make plans for helping this spectacular butterfly.

Caterpillars turn into butterflies. It's the wormlike version of the swallowtail butterfly.

It is most fortunate for you that this caterpillar has a "sweet tooth" for one plant in particular: The fennel plant. This is the one Christmas holiday when you can give the gift of life. It is early enough in the gardening year to buy some seeds of this plant.

Merry Christmas to you ... and your wormlike friends.

— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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