A few weeks ago, my mum gave the kids a voucher to send off for five tiny live caterpillars. We ordered them right away and waited patiently for them to arrive a few days later. They came in a little self contained pot which has all the food they needed to become butterflies. Over the next two weeks we watched in awe as they grew from 0.5 cm long caterpillars into 1 inch long chrysalises.
We waited 8 days after they formed chrysalises while the amazing metamorphosis took place inside their cocoons, until one morning, I went to check on them and saw our first painted lady butterfly had emerged. It was peacefully clinging to the netted sides of its enclosure, gently pulsating its wings to get the blood circulating through it’s body and extending its tongue over and over so it could fuse together. The children were so excited and eagerly placed some orange segments and flowers from the garden inside the habitat for their first butterfly to eat. Four more butterflies emerged over the next two days until finally we took them outside to release them.
The moment of setting them free was a truly magical experience. The first butterfly to hatch confidently flew off into the sky almost as soon as we took it out of the enclosure whilst the other four were more timid. They would sit peacefully on our hands, crawl delicately over Elsie’s dress or tickle Raff’s arm. We were able to handle them for up to an hour before we placed them on various butterfly friendly flowers in our garden. Before I went to bed that night I went to check on them and found two of the butterflies were still sitting where we’d left them. I scooped these ones back into their enclosure for the night to give them a little more time to build up their strength before releasing them again with the children the following day. Sure enough a day later they took flight almost as soon as we lifted them out and we watched them flutter about the garden dancing in the breeze.
It was an experience I don’t think any of us will forget, and a true privellege to get so close to nature and watch as the magic of metamorphosis unfolded.
Our caterpillars came from Insect Lore. This is not a sponsored post but I highly recommend this as an experience for you to enjoy with young children.