Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Butterfly, Butterfly

They arrived in mid-August, a surprise to my girl who'd just begun to add an interest in bugs and such to her already lengthy list of topics

We opened the box, saw the five caterpillars and their food inside the plastic jar. We introduced ourselves, and after a few days, we discovered that our caterpillars weren't very good housekeepers.  They were, however, very good at following directions. Within the specified number of days, three of our new friends climbed to the top of the container, attached themselves to the tissue paper at the top, and formed the letter J with their bodies. 
The other two caterpillars were a little slower to the job... we waited.

Finally two days later #4 #5 climbed to the top. After hanging for around 24 hours, the caterpillars began to form their chrysalids (what we commonly refer to as cocoons).
As each caterpillar formed its chrysalis, our excitement grew. So we watched...

...and we watched some more.

Finally, all five caterpillars had made it into their next phase in the cycle. All were in their chrysalids. Next, it was up to us to move them to their new home.
Behold the "Butterfly Garden" future home to our butterflies.
Now all we had to do was detach the tissue disk from the top of the plastic jar that had been serving as home for the caterpillars 

and attach it to the netting of the butterfly hut. 

No sudden movements!

Mission accomplished.
 It was time to wait 7-10 days for the butterflies to emerge.
Seven or eight days later, we awoke to find...
one empty chrasalis and one which had fallen to the bottom.
After closer look we found our first butterfly. 
We were all a bit bummed that we'd missed his exit from the chrysalis, but we were still confident about our chances of seeing the other four come forth.
Later that same day, another of the chrysalids began twitching and shaking. We were convinced that this was the moment, so we FaceTime-d our cousins' classroom and invited them to watch with us...

They watched and...
we watched...and
until the next day when, while six Wrights were in the kitchen eating breakfast, two more butterflies joined us...UNNOTICED!!!

During the next few days, the remaining butterflies emerged from their old homes into the new one, each with out being seen by anyone. Sigh.

Painted Lady butterflies live for 2-4 weeks after exiting their chrysalids. Ours lived long, laid eggs, and then one by one completed their cycles. 

Happily, our super-sentimental bug-crazy gal was off galavanting at her Grandma's during the final demise of her Painted Ladies.  

Additional Information: I ordered the butterflies from a company called Insect Lore and was pleased with the service, the product and the instructions provided. Their website is an excellent resource for information and all SORTS of bug related gear.

During the lifetime of the Painted Lady butterflies, we read lots of books about these amazing insects. Below is a list, linked to of some of our favorites.
and our favorite, 
We also colored some butterfly coloring pages which can be found here.
Some fun Painted Lady facts from the Insect Lore website:

~Her scientific name is "Vanessa Cardui L."
~She can lay up to 500 eggs.
~She may travel 1,000 miles in her lifetime.
~She tastes with her feet.
~She has 10,000 eyes.
~She breathes through her abdomen

AND now you know!!

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine.  
~Jeffrey Glassberg


G'ma suz said...

Tiffany (your girl's butterfly of 1985) would be happy to know chrysalids are still swinging around you. I'm not sure BUT I think "Ethel" caught a glimpse of some of them exiting into new life. She seems so "on task" in her picture. Great blog. Makes me want to order some caterpillars. . .almost. Love, MOM

Becky said...

It has happened in my own house - you are compelled to watch (half holding your breath), hoping to see a break, a movement, something, anything!

Better luck on the next round!

Deborah Ware said...

Last spring we picked up caterpillars and put them in our empty fish tank. (If the caterpillars are walking around aimlessly - on the ground or your porch you know they are ready to make their chrysalis.) We watched them walk round and round and round, then make their chrysalis. It was really neat. I Some hibernated over the winter there and emerged in the spring.

Gretchen said...

Wow Deborah! I never thought of scooping up a caterpillar from the great outdoors! Ha! How smart was that??? Was it a butterfly or a moth that emerged?

Deborah Ware said...

We caught all moths. And some never hatched. But, it was so fun to catch them and watch them do their thing. I made sure to look each one up to learn it's proper name and how long the hibernating cycle is. I also bought a butterfly bush in hopes of attracting more :)

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