Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our stint as temporary butterfly farmers.

My sister Lori gave us this package of grow your own butterflies.  She bought it for my niece Mikayla, only to find out that they wouldn't ship the caterpillars to Canada.  Discrimination!  So I have held on to it for two years, waiting for Mikayla to come and visit so we could grow the butterflies while she was here.  I sent in my "caterpillar coupon" so their arrival would coincide with Mikayla's visit this summer.  Turns out they won't mail the bugs in the dog days of summer, so they didn't arrive until a few weeks after Mikayla left, so she will have to enjoy them vicariously through this blog post. But that was pretty thoughtful of me all the same.
Neighbors Mac and Jett helping us set up the garden.  Which entails taking the cup out of the box.

First the 5 caterpillars came through the good old USPS in a little self-contained cup with all the food they will need.  So you wait for a week and watch them grow; their growth is so rapid as to be perceptible to the naked eye.  They get huge very quickly.  My photography isn't any good, but can you see how much bigger they are here in a matter of a couple of days?

Slowly the cup empties of food and fills with caterpillar poop- its the circle of life.  Then through some primal impulse, the caterpillars then make their way up to the lid of the cup and attach one end from the paper disc affixed there, and hang down in a j-form.  Then in the course of a day they metamorphize before your very eyes into creepy looking chrysalises.  Here you can see the would-be butterfly still in caterpillar form, and its four buddies already making the structural change to chrysalis form. 

Once all the chrysalises are stable, you remove the paper disk from the lid and get your surgically-skilled husband to move them into the butterfly habitat. 

After about a week, the butterflies emerge and dust themselves off.  We kept them on the kitchen counter for a few days, feeding them orange slices and sugar water left on the petals of flowers in the bottom of the habitat, as per the kit's instructions. 

Then we set them free in our yard, and they booked it on out of there. 

The whole thing was really fascinating and we all enjoyed checking in on the butterflies for the few weeks they were transforming on our kitchen counter, as well as ultimately setting them free. The kit cost about 20 dollars which is pretty good edutainment value right there.  Especially when your sister foots the bill.  The same company www.insectlore.com has some other kits to chose from, so we may ask Santa to put some more creepy-crawlies under our tree this year.  Or we could just let our Terminix contract lapse.  Hey, dont' say you don't ever get some money-saving ideas out of your time spent reading this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I should not have read this before going to bed. I feel itchy.