butterfly project

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A few years ago, we received a ButterflyGarden kit from Insect Lore as a gift. Those folks at Insect Lore are on to something, because that present brought us years of fascination. For $20 or $30, the kits make a great battery-free gift for kids between age 4 and 12 (my daughter says she'll still like it when she's 12 anyway). All it is is a mesh zippered cage and a plastic cup filled with Painted Lady caterpillars and their food (weird grey stuff). You can reorder the caterpillars over and over, which we did. We used it so much, we wore it out and decided to upgrade to the Butterfly Pavilion.
You just leave them in their cup and watch the caterpillars form their chrysalises. When they start to hang from the top in a "J" shape, you know they will make a chrysalis soon.
The caterpillars attach their chrysalises to the paper under the lid.
Then you transfer them to the cage by removing the paper and safety-pinning the discs to the inside of the mesh.
If your timing is right, you can watch the butterflies emerge from the chrysalises (freaky cool!) after about a week. This time around, they decided to come out in the middle of the night. No worries- we'll just order another batch of caterpillars.
The promise of more caterpillars makes it bearable for the kids to part with the butterflies.
We even made a special butterfly garden in a corner of the yard to release them in and hopefully attract some wild ones as well. It's not fit to be photographed at the moment. We'll weed it and post it when more stuff is in bloom...

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