Munching Caterpillars in Bristol_606 (Lucy Cunningham) - Robbie Labonowski

Lucy has given the Somerset & Bristol branch a summary of her time with the Munching Caterpillars project in Bristol.

It has been a busy few months, with lots of classes visited and opportunities to show people the wonderful world of butterflies, moths and their caterpillars. The school workshops have been as popular as ever, and butterfly mask making has been a fantastic activity to run at events alongside potting up plants.


Since my previous report I visited 26 classes in 8 different schools and over the course of the project, I have delivered the workshops to around 600 children. Many of the classes were KS1 as they learn about lifecycles as part of the curriculum, but I have worked with Year 3 and Year 6 classes as well. I found that no matter what age there was a lot of confusion about pollination, so that became a very important part of the workshops. The children are taught about bees being pollinators so many then thought that butterflies and moths also made honey.

Munching Caterpillars in Bristol (Lucy Cunningham) - Robbie Labonowski
Lucy at St Werburghs School, Bristol

The children engaged well with the workshops, thinking about what we were discussing and asking lots of questions. My favourite was from Cameron, Year 2 at St Werburghs’ Primary when we were discussing Cinnabar moths being poisonous. He said, “so if one of those was caught in a Venus Fly Trap would it kill the plant?” Answers on a postcard please!! Several children have even recognised me outside of the schools, with a loud exclamation from one boy at the Festival of Nature “I know you; you came to my school!” and I have been given butterfly drawings by children at my other job as a Playworker. It really shows how much attention they pay during the workshops, and I have been very impressed with the amount of knowledge they remember from the first workshop when I return for the second one.

These are some quotes from schools I have visited:

Munching Caterpillars in Bristol_644 (St Werburghs school) - Robbie Labonowski
St Werburghs School, Bristol

“Thank you for all your hard work and lovely workshops- the kids are totally enthused about these creatures”    Joe Elwood, St Werburghs’ Primary (the kids were so enthused they went out to play at break and found some empty cocoons on a tree in their playground.)

Munching Caterpillars in Bristol_838 (St Werburghs school) - Robbie Labonowski
St Werburghs School, Bristol

“Thanks for the lovely workshop. Children and adults really enjoyed it!!”    Stella Gradwell, Barton Hill Primary

“Thank you so much for our workshops on Tuesday, we really enjoyed them!”   Sarah Quinton, Cabot Primary

The following schools have already asked if we could return next year - Ashton Gate Primary, St Werburghs’ Primary, Barton Hill Primary, St Martins C of E Primary.

Engagement Opportunities

The main event was Bristol Festival of Nature in June, which was a fantastic opportunity to engage with hundreds of families over the two days. In addition to this I have supported the Friends of Dame Emily Park with their family fun day, making masks and showing live specimens. Butterfly Conservation were donated some Buddleia plants which I was able to donate to the community garden and local residents.

Festival of Nature (Bristol)
Festival of Nature, Bristol
Festival of Nature (Bristol)
Festival of Nature, Bristol

Following up on an email sent to the Somerset and Bristol branch, I worked in partnership with the Greenway Centre to create a woodland butterfly trail and run some activity sessions over the school holidays. Kate Merry kindly provided the prizes of a Buddleia and Hungry Caterpillar gift pack from BC HQ. There were 15 families that entered the prize draw, and many enjoyed the activities. Mask making was very popular with one of parents saying it was nice to have some calm activities for the children to do in the holidays. Some of my time on this project was voluntary as I had already used up most of my contracted hours. We have been in discussion about a collaboration project to encourage local residents to plant pollinator friendly patches with a competition to see how many butterflies they attract coinciding with the Big Butterfly Count.

In addition to the above, I have also been involved in some marketing and PR work, liaising with St Werburghs’ Primary to arrange a photoshoot and writing pieces for social media and The Arion. It is extremely rewarding working on this project and would like to thank the branch for the opportunity. The help from the project volunteers, Daphne, Amy, Anna and Shanice, has been invaluable and I would like to thank Kate and Maggie for their support along the way.

Lucy Cunningham, Munching Caterpillars Contractor for the Somerset & Bristol & Branch Butterfly Conservation.

September 2019