This summer we ordered caterpillars to live in our butterfly habitat. They came in a little cup with lots of food. The directions said to leave them in the cup until they formed chrysalises and then move them to the habitat. We decided to let them live a better life in the habitat directly. The kids picked some branches and we put the food cup in and let the caterpillars roam.
After 17 days in the habitat we had our first butterfly! These are painted lady butterflies that are drab on the underside and brightly colored on top.
Three butterflies hatched the first day and a fourth hatched the next day. One caterpillar never fully completed the chrysalis transformation and one chrysalis fell and didn’t survive the butterfly transformation, so of the six caterpillars we started with we ended up with four butterflies.
We left them for a few days for our trip to Franklin and when we returned they were actively trying to fly in the habitat, despite the dried leaves and sticks in the way. We decided to let them free!
The first three butterflies flew away, one at at time, over the course of the first five minutes. We waited awhile on the last butterfly, but it didn’t fly away. After awhile we just left it on the porch. Then we put fresh branches in the habitat and put the butterfly food back, right near the top, hoping to tempt it up to the opening. Didn’t work. Eventually Eve just picked it up with her hands and blew it away. Success!
Overall a fun experience. I was thinking, later, that if I were a real sciency teacher/mom I should have made the kids keep a science journal with observations and predictions and whatnot. Instead we just ignored the directions and did what we wanted to with them. Great example to set. :) But we had fun and that’s important to. Maybe we’ll do it again next summer with more precision. Or not.