Green Life – our butterfly experience

by Jen in butterflies,caterpillars,painted lady butterfly,raising butterflies with kids

painted lady butterfly in child's hand
Butterflies are everywhere and I don’t just mean in the garden, I mean online too. I was watching the discussions about people getting butterfly caterpillars in the blogosphere and thought that this was something I most certainly wanted to try. While my daughters have both had caterpillars, and butterflies, in their classrooms I have never watched the magical transformation. So, we hopped online, thanks to a tip from Our Feminist Play School,  and ordered our very own home kit of painted lady caterpillars. 
They arrived in about a weeks time. We were so excited! We had the perfect spot for them to sit. They were as tiny as an eyelash…really tiny. I could not believe that those little caterpillars would one day be a big butterfly. 
caterpillars in containers

In time they ate, they pooped, they practiced spinning webs…and they grew.

caterpillar waste in a cup
painted lady caterpillar
Until one day we noticed one hanging from the middle of their little cup building a chrysalis…remarkable! The first time we opened the cup and saw the chrysalis I couldn’t believe what that caterpillar had built.
painted lady chrysalis
There are so many moment in this process that I could share. Like the Saturday when the girls and I were in the backyard and my husband started yelling “A butterfly is being born, come quick!!” or the way the one chrysalis would dance around whenever a butterfly brushed it. 
On the day that we decided to release a group of 5 butterflies was pretty funny. I carefully carried the butterfly house to the backyard, opened the door and they just sat there. 
butterfly house

Then I noticed that two of the butterflies were mating!

mating painted lady butterflies
One butterfly jumped up and flew away. 
butterfly flew away
Two butterflies refused to leave. Even when we put them on our hands and took them outside…they didn’t want to go. 
painted lady butterfly on child's hand
So, we went back inside with 2 maters and 2 scared butterflies. A very eventful experience. 
We now have 2 chrysalises hanging in the butterfly house waiting to emerge. 
painted lady chrysalis
Who knows if they will or they won’t. We have had a great time with this project. I asked my youngest daughter, “Why did we raise these butterflies? Why are butterflies important to the world we live in?” Her answer was, “They help flowers grow. When they land on a flower they get stuff (pollen) on their feet and then they take it to other plants and that helps them to grow.” That’s right. Butterflies are pollinators, just like bees. These tiny, delicate insects are a critical part of our environment. Without pollinators there would be no flowers, no trees, no food, no clean air…nothing. So, we released 8 healthy butterflies into the world, off to do their very important job. What incredible little creatures they truly are! 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sandi June 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

Raising butterflies is one of my favourite things in the Spring. Glad you and your girls had such fun with it.

sandi
rubber boots and elf shoes

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Kierna C June 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Love this & you got such great photos. I had 5 butterflies when I got back to school on Wednesday & the children are so excited by watching the flutter about in the net. I’m hoping the weather picks up a bit next week so they can get some sunshine before heading off. Incidentally most years when we are releasing them 1 or 2 choose to stay for an extra day or 2.

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abbie June 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Oh what fun! We have never raised butterflies at home but my oldest daughter has seen this exciting event in school two years in a row now. She always raves about what the butterflies are doing!

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Mama Pea Pod June 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

What a wonderful and exciting experience – for your whole family, by the sound of it!

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