The Painted Lady

by Tiana A while back when I read about how to find and raise a monarch butterfly on The Art of Doing Stuff, I was totally inspired to get this in he works fir Bobby. He LOVES butterflies and it was one of his first obsessions ( along with balls and fans). Finding an egg and feeding the caterpillar with copious amounts of milkweed seemed like a lot of work and I had back burnered the idea until one day a couple of weeks ago when my doorbell rang during Brent's band practice.

Our next door neighbour raises butterflies. I know she provides them to a nearby school to help teach about metamorphosis and she is a retired teacher herself. She came by with a small container housing two painted lady caterpillars, a lump of food and a lot of poop. She is wonderful and she told Bobby what to expect.

  1. they might eat a bit more
  2. they would attach their bums to the top and hang down
  3. they would make a "J" shape
  4. they would become chrysalises

Bobby was convinced she meant a cocoon but he shortly corrected his belief based on false information provided by Eric Carle. Moths come from cocoons. We kept them in a lit area but out of direct light and checked on them often. A day later they were "J" shaped and a day after that, one had become a chrysalis. I was watching as the remaining caterpillar became very stiff, then it started vibrating, then it's outer layer started sliding upward as the chrysalis was revealed below. I should have taken a video but I was too awestruck. It's seriously magical. Bobby looked a couple times and Brent didn't even glance. he totally missed out. For real.

Caterpillars about to become chrysalises

Then, as instructed, we went next door and told our neighbour what had transpired.

The next day she came back with a larger home for the chrysalises and transferred them over. Chrysalises transferred to larger container

Once again she told Bobby what to expect.

  1. they would look the same for 10-12 days
  2. shortly before the butterflies hatch, their chrysalises will get blackish
  3. when they come out, there will be a little blood but it's ok and they are not hurt
  4. when they come out their wings will be all crinkled and wet but over time they will stretch and dry out

She gave Bobby a stack of post-it notes numbered 1 through 12 so he could remove one each day and know when the butterflies would hatch. On day 5 I found them scattered about his room.

A couple of days ago we all woke up the find that the butterflies had hatched in the night. Bobby was very excited and we agreed to go tell our neighbour about it AFTER daycare. Bobby watching the butterflies

Trying to escape?

Butterfly head-on

Painted Ladt with extended wings She was out at the time so we left a note on her door. She came by right before Bobby's bed time and we had even more butterfly fun! He told her their names. He named them Piper and Max. I have no idea why. She said they would be ready to let out the next day and that the flowering bush in our backyard was the perfect location. In the meantime, they were likely hungry so she placed a chunk of orange in their little home and Piper (assuming it's the same one that was in the spot since the morning) went for a drink right away.

Learning time: A butterfly 'eats' using it's proboscis which is like a long coiled straw in it's mouth that it extends to drink nectar. Or orange juice. This video shows the drinking and then the proboscis retracting.

Butterfly Drinking OJ a video by tianadargent on Flickr.

Since I always need something with which to lure Bobby away from daycare, I told him we would do it in the evening before supper. And we took a video of it!

Butterfly release a video by tianadargent on Flickr.

If you ever get the chance to do this I suggest you do. It's super!!

Tiana is mother to Bobby Hurricane and Molly Rocket. You can catch her being generally awesome over at Do Not Rest Easy.