Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Wait Paid Off

About 2 months ago, Halle had some money burning a hole in her pocket. I took her to Toys-R-Us and she came home with a butterfly habitat. We had to send away to get the little caterpillars and then we waited, and waited, and waited, and WAITED until I thought Halle was going to loose her mind (and I loose mine) wishing for those caterpillars to show up in the mail.

When they first showed up, they were only about 1/4 of inch big. By the end of the week they were a good 2 inches long. CRAZY how quickly they grew. And although they were fascinating, they really kind of grossed me out.

We were lucky enough to catch one turning from caterpillar to chrysalis and that was VERY exciting. And then....the waiting returned while they hung upside down in their dormant state.
But today they (well, two so far) emerged! (And we -by we, I mean me- can all breathe a sigh of relief that at least two lived. After last night's episode of me accidentally knocking the habitat over and jarring two chrysalis loose, I was TERRIFIED I was going to have to deal with dead -or worse- half formed, butterflies. I'm afraid Halle would go ballistic. Pray that the remaining 3 form normally!)

We've learned a lot with this little pet project. For instance, did you know that while in the chrysalis state, a caterpillar's organs completely dissolve? I think it is so amazing that something can change so drastically! In the picture above, the chrysalis on the left is one already hatched. If you look closely at the one on the right you can see the pattern of the butterfly's wings inside. We're still waiting on her to come out. (And don't ask me why, but all butterflies are girls to me.) The little spots of orange on the paper were left by the caterpillars (bodily fluids of some kind, yuck), the little black thing at the end of the pin is the old caterpillar skin when it changed into the chrysalis, and the nasty red stain on the mesh itself is fluid from the freshly hatched butterfly. Who knew butterflies were so messy?

Pretty Painted Lady. I enjoy her MUCH more now that she's not spinning a web, pooping everywhere, and creeping around with bunch of sticky legs. I have to admit, these have been really fun.


Jenn said...

how fun my girls would love that. They are so into things like this, I better not let them see your post.

Anonymous said...

If you have any milkweed plants nearby, look on the under side of the leaves. You will find eggs and larvae of monarch butterfly's. Just pick the leaves, put them in your habitat and add fresh leave daily (their food). In no time you will have monarchs!

Tonya said...

What a great project. You have become quite the butterfly expert. The last picture is just beautiful. So is it too cold to let them outdoors still?

Janet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crystal Escobar said...

Oh my gosh! That is so cool, we have the same thing! Ours just barely built their chrysalids :) Lily's so excited about it!
I should take some pics too.

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

We did this way back when Katie was in first grade. They were rather nasty. And only one of ours actually came out of the cocoon - and I don't think it lasted much longer than that. Yours was really pretty though. it too cold to release the butterfly??

LouandAngela said...

That is sooo neat! We just watched Bugs in 3D at the Clark Planetarium. You saw the process in real life! How cool!