Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From Caterpillars to Butterflies

Olivia and her homeschool co-op visited the All-A-Flutter Butterfly Farm about a month ago and brought home a "butterfly castle", which is a potted milkweed plant with 2 Monarch Butterfly eggs.

We checked it daily, watered the plant and waited for a sign that at least one of them had hatched. Finally, after a week, we were rewarded with this:

Not one, but both of them hatched within a day of each other. Olivia promptly named them "Jane" and "Millie"
 They grew quickly, going from tiny caterpillars to large, fat ones over the course of the next 12 days. 
Then, on day 19, Jane (don't ask me how she could tell them apart)  curled up and hung motionless for a few hours 

When we looked the next morning, she was shedding her skin.
Before this, I always thought they wove a cocoon around themselves
But as we watched, it became clear that she had already changed inside and would become the chrysalis itself.

Another 12 days later, we came downstairs and found her already out of the chrysalis, drying her wings.
We carried the plant outside and took off the net.
Almost immediately, she fluttered down to the concrete. That's when we noticed that "Jane" was actually a boy.
Olivia promptly renamed him Benny.
I guess Benny wasn't used to his new wings yet because he wouldn't really attempt to fly and was willing to climb onto our hands without the slightest hesitation.
After a couple more minutes of prompting, Benny took flight. He didn't go far, though, before he landed in the grass and struggled to get upright. I picked him back up and looked for a place to put him. 
In the meantime, Ezra went back and forth about whether he wanted to hold Benny, but he finally did.

We finally placed Benny on top of a tall, wooden stake in the yard and he sat there for a good hour while the kids ate lunch. At some point, I looked out the window and he was gone. Now we wait for Millie...

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