I remember as a kid how cool it was to do experiments at home on our own as we explored the world around us. It’s still early with Noah to get into some of the more complex stuff but a friend’s post on Facebook made me think of a cool thing to do with him that he’d understand (and it tied in nicely to what they were talking about at school a few weeks prior).
I ordered a kit of butterfly caterpillars from Insect Lore. I’d looked a few others but they were rather pricy. The caterpillars themselves was not that bad you need to do overnight or 2 day shipping so it added up.
When the package arrived it had everything in it we needed to raise our caterpillars into Painted Lady butterflies packaged inside a box that actually contained all the instructions necessary.
I’m missing the first picture of the caterpillars because I was out of town when DH and Noah set it up but they were tiny!! Skinny little buggers only an inch or so long.
It didn’t take long for them to grow into these 2.5 inch giants! Along the way you could see them shed their outer skin in order to grow bigger.
After about a week, they started to make their way to the top of the cup and get into the classic J hook shape that indicated that they were ready to pupate. Once in the J hook they molt one more time and then the chrysalis forms. This happened very quickly – overnight for us so we went to bed with J hooks and woke up to a bunch of chrysalises (plural chrysalis? haha)
I didn’t manage to get a pic of the chrysalis some how – they were in there for about a week. We gave it three days or so to harden and then moved them into the butterfly enclosure where they spent the rest of the week. About 7 days later it was time for them to emerge – they started to do what my friend referred to as “bleeding their colors”. There is a waste byproduct (meconium actually) that exudes from the pupa right before they emerge. That’s the red staining you see around the enclosure. They actually continued to exude that for a few hours after emerging.
We missed the emerge process too – I went to work and they were pupas and I came home and they were butterflies. Noah was so very excited to see them out and about. He wanted to hold each and every one. I gave them a day or so to dry their wings and then let him stick his hand in the enclosure so they’d sit on him. I really wish I’d gotten a picture of his face…so awesome!
We kept them in the enclosure for a few days to enjoy and then, with Papa and Memaw in attendance, released them one by one in our back yard.
I’d grab one, put it on his hand, he’d say a quick good-bye and wished them well on their way to Mexico (yes, that’s what he said…he said “bye bye, have fun in Mexico”). I later found out that they read a book at school about Monarchs and their journey from Mexico on North so he thought they’d to Mexico too. I love what his little brain retains and applies!!
Anyways, this was a great little experiment to do with him. I actually find myself looking for them when I’m washing dishes (because that’s where they sat on our counter). We’ll definitely do it again next year!! Thanks Christine for sharing yours on Facebook which in turn inspired me to do it.