Friday, June 5, 2009


This spring my kids and I were lucky enough to witness one of natures miracles in our own home!

We ordered some Painted Lady Butterfly caterpillars from a home schooling distributor in Canada. Six arrived in mid May via Fed Ex as larvae in a small deli container!

We put them in a terrarium ($2 flea market) to observe their life cycle and transformation!

We kept a log of their progress;

May 12 - Caterpillars arrive, all are about 1.5 - 2 cm in length
May 13 - All look bigger except one- we name him Smally. They move and eat all day!
May 16 - Most are about 3.8 cm long, moving faster, eating all the food!
May 18 - Longest is about 6.5 cm long! A small yellow line appears on their sides
May 20 - Four of the caterpillars have moved to the lid and hung down and folded over!
May 23 - Smally is the last one to hang down and form his Chrysalis (cocoon)
May 26 - All are in Chrysalis form, the food is all gone, no movement from them
May 27 - Two emerge!! They hang from the top, some colour drips from them, this looks like blood but is not, it is either dye or meconium (waste products) they both open their wings within about 30 min of emergence!! They flutter around a little!
May 29 - all but one are hatched! We put a wet cloth (we couldn't find our sponge) into the terrarium for moisture, and a little orange Gatorade as directed by instructions for a food source until we release them. We have a near drowning in the Gatorade at first and change the container to a dish, then one decides to "rest" in the Gatorade overnight, causing him to dye himself orange!! We named him Gatorade!
May 30 - We release five butterflies! They all fly away, not too far at first but fly none the less!
June 2 - Smally emerges!!! He looks great, perfect just like the others
June 3 - We release Smally!

Overall it was a great experience. Painted Lady Butterflies are the most common Butterflies in the world. They are beneficial insects as they are pollinators. They add colour and joy to everyone who sees them! It was an honour to be a part of their lives for the short time we had them and would recommend anyone who is interested in learning about butterflies to try and raise some too!

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