Miss A likes being out and about in the garden, hunting bugs and picking up snails. She has often tried to chase butterflies but of course they fly away very quickly. A few weeks ago, we won a butterfly garden set, so we were both very excited to receive the caterpillars and watch the life cycle as they changed into butterflies.
The caterpillars arrived through the post with their food perfectly sealed in their pot. They were very tiny the day they arrived but grew very quickly. I think they stayed in their pot for ten days before we transferred them to their new home.
You have to wait until the caterpillars grow big and strong enough to climb to the top of the pot and attach themselves to the lid. There is a clever paper disc on the lid that you wont see until you take the lid off the pot. This helps you move the caterpillars to their net.
Once the chrysalis were solid for around three days. we moved them from the pot to the butterfly house which is like a pop up net enclosure. The paper disc wasn’t very attractive, and we were careful to remove any of the webbing from the chrysalis’ so the butterflies could become free when it was time.
It didn’t take long, only a couple of days before we noticed one emerging late one evening. That morning, the chrysalis had changed colour and looked very black. I was worried that it wasn’t going to make it, but I realised this was part of the process and they turn black just before they emerge.
By the morning two more were out and in the net. They were very still for quite a while, and this is so their wings can harden. Once this process is complete they shed a red liquid called meconium that looks like blood but isn’t.
Aren’t they beautiful! We had five butterflies emerge. One ended up with a broken wing which is a little distressing to watch as it wont ever fix itself. She is a trooper though and was getting around the net quite well once she managed to free herself from the chrysalis.
We fed the butterflies on flower petals and fresh fruit for a couple of days before we let them go.
They were quite reluctant to leave their net for quite a few minutes when we opened the lid. Miss A had her hand ready in case one wanted to perch on her to say hello.
The first two took flight really quick when they realised the top was open. It was too quick for photos or video. The second two stayed around for ages saying hello. Miss A named one Rosie, and she stayed for ages. We had to pop her on the grass in the end as I think she was quite happy where she was and would have stayed for ever.
This has been a really fun activity to complete at home with Miss A. It’s educational without her realising it as she has become fascinated on the life cycle of a butterfly since we got the caterpillars. I’ve created a short video of the cycle of a caterpillar to a butterfly.