Sunday, June 17, 2012

From Caterpillars to Chrysalis to Butterflies!

For Easter this year we gave the girls something I have been wanting to get them for a couple of years now - a butterfly habitat! 

We sent off for our caterpillars on Easter night. After what felt like forever, our caterpillars arrived on May 23rd. There was a little note inside the package telling us our three tiny caterpillars were born on May 14th. To give you some idea of scale, the plastic cup in which our caterpillars (with their food included) arrived were probably around 4 oz. in size. 
Caterpillar May 23rd

We watched them everyday eat and crawl, eat and crawl - and grow and grow at what I found to be a freakishly fast rate. We would take a peak at them in the morning while eating breakfast and by the time we checked on them again around dinnertime, we could actually see a difference in their size. It was really beginning to weird me out.
Caterpillar on May 29th
Caterpillar just 2 days later!! On May 31st

Our directions informed us that in about two weeks our caterpillars would form their chrysalis. On June 3rd when we checked our caterpillars, we were so surprised to find a chrysalis hanging from the lid of the cup. Within a couple of days, a second caterpillar was hanging from the lid in the shape of a "j" and by the afternoon we had watched the caterpillar form its chrysalis. It was very cool! Our 3rd little caterpillar, who had been on the slow side with his growth, was a bit behind the other two with his chrysalis too. Finally, just a week ago, on June 12th, he formed his chrysalis.
Our first chrysalis and our second caterpillar, about to be in "j" formation!
Our second caterpillar, in "j" formation. This photo was taken in the morning.

The same caterpillar from above, just a few hours later that day. Incredible!

I was getting anxious about this last little caterpillar for a couple of reasons. For one, our directions told us to remove the paper liner from the cup on which the chrysalis were hanging on the 3rd day (they are really fragile the first couple of days) and to pin the paper to the inside of the butterfly habitat. The butterflies typically break free from their chrysalis within a week so by the time the last caterpillar had changed, it was time for our first butterfly to emerge. I flipped out slightly on last Tuesday when I went to remove the paper liner with three chrysalis to find a butterfly inside the cup!!
Our Painted Lady butterfly!

Butterfly wings need a day to dry completely before they can fly so fortunately I was able to get the new butterfly, as well as the paper liner with remaining two chrysalis into the butterfly habitat without incident. It was stressful though!
The larger butterfly was the first caterpillar to transform. This is the day of release for butterfly #1!

On the day our 2nd butterfly emerged we set free the first butterfly. The girls and I really got excited to watch our butterfly flutter away. Yesterday we set free our second butterfly and now we are just waiting for this last little guy to make his way out, which should be in the next couple of days.
Just waiting on our last little guy.

This little project has really been a crazy and cool experience. To watch our little caterpillars grow and grow and then transform into something so different and so beautiful - well it has actually given me a new appreciation for nature (and for the "Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar" book by Eric Carle!)

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