Friday, May 11, 2012

Butterfly Wonder

Some of you may remember we ordered caterpillars two years ago, to watch their amazing metamorphosis in our own home.  It is totally worth doing.  The girls were enthralled and loved the anticipation of it all.

When the caterpillars first arrive, they are teeny tiny.

After a week or so, the caterpillars are HUGE.

Soon, they crawl up to the top of their container to prepare for their next phase.  You can see that the first chrysalis has already formed on the right side.

After all the cocoons are complete, we take the paper off the lid of the container and pin it to the side of a mesh cage. Here, the butterflies have all hatched.  An exciting day!  (The red stuff is meconium, not blood.)

We drop sugar water on oranges to feed them every day.

The girls wanted to wait until their Aunt Melissa came from California to release the butterflies.  Apparently, they only live for two weeks.  So, they had to spend half their lives in a stuffy cage, instead of being wild and free outside.  Poor things. Here the girls are, ready to release the butterflies. 

Here you go, little creatures. Enjoy the rest of your short life out in the wild blue yonder!

What is this?  One little butterfly refuses to take flight.  When we look closer, he is a crippled little fellow.  One of his wings has either broken off or it did not fully develop.  I didn't have the heart to set him in the bushes because he surely would have become instant dinner for a nearby bird.  So, we put him back in the cage so he can live out the rest of his life in the comfort of our climate-controlled kitchen, being fed sugar water every day, by my hand.  It's probably not a bad life.  It's better than being bird food, surely.

We will definitely do this again sometime.  We love it.  Next time I think I will make the kids keep a chart, where they write down new developments they notice each day.  Except for the chrysalis phase, which is pretty boring, it's so fun to see the changes every day! 
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