A Week of Butterfly Nature Study

weekly report
This week our main focus was butterflies! Sure, we did math, history readings, vocabulary, and all the other necessary subjects, but mostly, we watched butterflies.

Two weeks ago, we had caterpillars. Kathryn was fascinated with them. The rest of us were pretty amazed at how fast they grew!

After about a week, they turned into chrysalises, but not all on the same day. One of the weirdest things to me is how the chrysalis will shake like crazy if it’s bumped. This is to ward off predators.

Once they all turned into chrysalises, we moved them into the butterfly habitat. That was a week ago Thursday. Eight days later, the first butterfly emerged. We learned by watching that the chrysalis turns very dark a few hours before the butterfly comes out.
newly emerged butterfly

Kathryn wasn’t here at the time (she was with her dad), but Lindsey was excited and immediately called Kathryn to tell her all about it. Lacy the WonderDog was fascinated by the fact that we had a little flying insect in this thing where she could poke it with her nose. The remaining chrysalises practiced their shaking to try to scare her off, but that just made her poke it more.
On Sunday, two more butterflies emerged while we were at church, and one more late that afternoon. Kathryn came back from her dad’s that night, and was relieved we still had one more butterfly to go. She really wanted to see it happen!

Monday, Kathryn sat watching them all morning, even having her breakfast as she stared in eager anticipation. When she had to get up for any reason, I was on call to watch.

Finally, all that waiting was rewarded. It’s unbelievable how fast they come out and get those wings unfurled. Though this was the second time we’ve done this with caterpillars-into-butterflies, we’ve never seen one come out of the chrysalis. This time, we did!

Kathryn and Lindsey feed and play with the butterflies a few times each day. It tickles a bit to have a butterfly walk on your hand. If you have sugar-water on your finger, they’ll drink it, which is a great way to watch their proboscis unroll!
butterfly on finger

We know from experience that they’ll likely start mating soon. We don’t know how many males or females we have. Their lifespan is only a couple of weeks, so we’ll plan to release them before they die.

Until then, we’ll enjoy them as much as we can. And maybe even imitate them. (licorice rolls make a nifty proboscis)
another butterfly

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