Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Wings

I love the opportunity to learn things first hand. Hands-on and right before your eyes is one of my favorite ways to absorb information. Don't get me wrong, I love books. Books spark ideas and spread information but sometimes you need to be right in it. So as we were learning about lifecycles, we looked for opportunities to watch them before our very eyes. Sprouting seeds, raising chicks and now butterflies.

Together with some local homeschoolers, we ordered Painted Lady larvae. We received 6 each. When they arrived they were so small; no bigger than a sunflower seed. For about 2 weeks they lived in a container with their own food (a soy type cake). They grew so rapidly. We checked day after day to see if they were ready to pupate. They would hang in the shape of a J then overnight the chrysalis would form around them. We then moved them to the cage we made for them so the children could watch them change. They had a metallic sheen to them which was so unexpected.

There was so much anticipation in waiting for the butterflies to emerge. We watched over the chrysalis carefully. Finally we saw spindly legs emerge from one of the chrysalis. Overnight the rest of the butterflies emerged. They sat on the side drying their wings, looking very brown. The next day we got a glimpse of the beautiful colors on the back of our Painted Ladies.

We decided to release them in our backyard near a large bush covered in orange flowers. I knew the honeybees and the hummingbirds love that bush and I was sure the butterflies would love it too. We gently lifted them from the cage and lowered them to the flowers. We watched them sip nectar with long tongues. Finally, they flew off to explore our yard and find a new home. It was nothing short of magic.

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