Monday, May 24, 2010


A few weeks ago, we ordered some caterpillars from an insect company. The company makes habitats you can purchase and then send in an order for the insect to watch the life cycle take place. Our caterpillars came by mail and were in a little cup with a lid. Their food was inside the cup, so we watched them for a few days as they ate and grew, and grew and grew. We could not believe how fat they got! It was just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Somehow, we missed pictures of them before they made their cocoons. These were very stealthy caterpillars. I thought for sure we'd be able to watch them get in their cocoons, but we woke up one morning to find them all closed up inside. If you look very closely, you can see the cocoons hanging from the lid of the cup.

So now we had to transfer the cocoons from the cup to the habitat. The instructions said to very carefully peel off the inside of the lid and then saftey pin it to the inside of the habitat.

Look closely and you can see the paper and cocoons on the left side of the cage. There was one caterpillar who made his cocoon attached to some webbing in the cup, so the directions said to just lay the cocoon on a paper towel in the bottom of the habitat, and that he'd probably hatch just fine.

Much to my dismay, the first four butterflies were hatched and flying around one morning when we woke up for breakfast! I was so looking forward to Andrew and Coleman seeing the cocoons open and the butterfly emerge. Oh well. Maybe next year our butterflies will time their escape a little better.
We had a lot of fun watching them flutter around for a few days. We had a dropper and a recipe for some sugar water to use to feed them. We dripped the sugar water all over a few yellow flowers. Andrew did get to see one use its proboscis and drink some of the food, so that was pretty neat.

Here they are in the habitat. The red stuff on the paper isn't blood. It's meconium from the hatching. Brent and I were both very surprised to learn that, as there is another definition for meconium that we are more familiar with!

watching the butterflies at breakfast one morning

We kept them for two days and then released them after supper one night. It was hard to get them to fly away, and even harder to get a picture of their departure.

Andrew is asking if I got a picture of that one. He had just finished his popsicle.

Finally! A partial success! The black, orange, and pink blur at the bottom right of the picture is one of the butterflies leaving. They were painted lady butterflies, which live in all of the continental states, as long as the weather is above 55 degrees.

Painted lady butterflies live for about two weeks. I'm pretty sure I saw one flying in Horseshoe Park the other day. This will be a fun spring tradition around our house for many more years!

1 comment:

Tina said...

Fun, fun, fun!!!!