Remember when Kenny found a chrysalis in our backyard and brought it in so the boys could see a butterfly hatch? But then it didn’t work? Well, it’s that time of year again, and we are officially in the butterfly raising business.
This time we brought caterpillars in and kept them in two acrylic containers from Grandma. And let me tell you, they are very hungry caterpillars indeed. They eat the leaves from our milkweed plants and they eat LOTS. It’s amazing how fast they grow and how big they get, after starting out the size of an eyelash. Riley has been very good at going out back to get more leaves for them to eat. But he just so happens to pick ones with more tiny caterpillars or caterpillar eggs on them!
We have been able to observe all of the stages of their life cycle, and it’s been really cool to see. The boys know that when one starts hanging like this, he’s preparing to form his chrysalis so he can turn into a butterfly.
We got really lucky with timing and were able to watch him form his chrysalis. They basically split themselves open, kind of like a snake shedding his skin, and the bright green chrysalis is revealed underneath. So fascinating.
This was the first one that hatched. He busted out of the chrysalis and hung from it so he could dry out and fully expand his wings. You can also see another chrysalis on the twig in there with the new butterfly.
This is that same chrysalis three days later. They turn really dark and you can make out some of the butterfly inside. This is a sign that he’s about ready to come out. We unfortunately missed seeing this one emerge.
But Rory and I were home at the right time to see the next one hatch. Again, so very cool. The chrysalis splits open from the bottom and the butterfly unfolds himself. The whole process took less than three minutes. So amazing that they can fit inside of those cocoons!
We have released a total of four butterflies so far. Riley did the first one, and he ended up just dumping him out. Rory did the second, which flew out and immediately landed on his arm, which totally freaked him out. (No one was harmed, though.) Claire and Colin happened to be over for the third release. Then Kate and QP got to be here for the fourth at the end of last week. That butterfly flew straight into the side of Rory’s face as he was running away. Poor thing.
Here’s a video montage of all of our releases. Science and nature are cool, y’all.