Archives for June 2014

Caterpillars

The girls and I have been enjoying a special project these past few weeks – Caterpillars! It’s one of my favorite activities to do with kids, and I’ve been counting down the months until I could do it with the girls. Had Spring actually shown up in March when it should have, we probably could have done it earlier. But oh well, we did it now!

I ordered through Insect Lore who was running a special where we got two cups of caterpillars, the habitat, and a few other things, for an awesome price. The caterpillars are contained in a little cup and you don’t have to do anything with them (except look) until they make their chrysalises.

At first I was a little disappointed because the caterpillars were a tiny bit bigger than the last time I got them (for my old preschool class) but it ended up not being that big of a deal and they still stayed as caterpillars for a while.


E taking a close look at her caterpillars

After around 2 weeks more or less as caterpillars, they crawl to the top and make their chrysalises (yes, they are chrysalises. The Very Hungry Caterpillar book is wrong. Caterpillars who turn into moths make cocoons. Caterpillars who turn into butterflies make chrysalises. I really wish they would fix it!)


The caterpillars beginning to make their chrysalises

Once they have made their chrysalises you need to move them to their habitat. Open the lid of the cup and carefully take out the paper that they’re attached to. Use a safety pin (or a paperclip) to attach them to the side, about half way up the habitat (wait until ALL the caterpillars are completely finished making them. You have at least 7 days until they come out as butterflies). If one falls, gently put it in the bottom of the habitat. It should be okay. [Check out my Instagram for a short video of a caterpillar in a chrysalis showing off it’s natural defense mechanism]


Butterfly watch 2014

Within 7 to 14 days, the butterflies will begin to emerge. It’s really a fascinating thing to watch! Unfortunately the girls were napping when the butterflies came out, so they weren’t able to watch it, but I did record a great video to show them that I’ll add at the end of this post!


Freshly out, still needing to spread it’s wings

Once they’re out, they need some time to spread their wings and let them dry. You may notice some red stuff coming from them and on their habitat. It’s not blood, it’s actually meconium. Yup, it’s poop.


Spreading it’s wings to dry them

You can either keep them for a few days (be sure to feed them) or let them go on a sunny or overcast (but not rainy day) after their wings have had time to dry (at least two hours after coming out of their chrysalises).

Honestly, I was pretty nervous they would die if we didn’t let them go soon after they came out. 5 came out one day, and then the other 5 the next. We let the first 5 go the same day they came out and the next 5 stayed overnight (due to rain) and then we freed them the day after.

The girls had a blast and were able to hold them for a few minutes before they flew away. They LOVED it!


Setting them free!

Through this activity, the girls learned a ton! We talked about the life cycle of a caterpillar, they learned a new word – metamorphosis, we talked about how caterpillars don’t grow like we do, so they shed their exoskeleton (the girls even wanted to hold it, so once we moved the chrysalises to the habitat, I let them hold some), etc. They were always very excited to watch the caterpillars and asked questions about what they were doing. I think this will definitely be a repeated special project!

Here’s the video of the butterfly coming out of its chrysalis! [Keep your eye on the chrysalis on the right. It’s a little hard to notice what’s happening at first. It will help to make the video bigger if you can!]


Aly