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A couple of months ago I mentioned how it can be fun to find butterflies and moths while out on a walk.
Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about a hands-on experience to teach your “little scientists” more about caterpillars and butterflies. Raising your own butterflies!
I have used caterpillars purchased from Insect Lore twice now, and we have had positive results both times. (You can find more information about Insect Lore here if you are interested.)
If you do order through Insect Lore, you will receive a butterfly net (which you can use multiple times), a voucher code for caterpillars, and instructions. Once the caterpillars are ordered, they are shipped in the mail to your location. There may be an additional charge to receive the caterpillars.
The caterpillars arrive in a small cup with “food” on the bottom. They stay inside of the cup, eating and growing. Eventually, they form a chrysalis (moths form cocoons) on the top of the cup on an insert. Once all the caterpillars have turned into chrysalises (also known as chrysalides), you must carefully remove the insert and secure it to the top of the butterfly net with a safety pin.
Then, you wait until the painted lady butterflies emerge. Here you can see the insert hanging on the top of the net with some of the butterflies emerging.
Here is another picture taken after some of the butterflies have emerged.
The second time we did this, the butterflies laid (super tiny) eggs, and we had a bunch of teeny tiny caterpillars shortly after. Although this isn’t a great picture, all of those little lines are teeny tiny caterpillars.
When we were releasing the butterflies, one of them landed on my daughter’s finger.
If interested, ask your local nature center if they offer some kind of a Monarch Butterfly program. You may be able to help tag butterflies, release butterflies, and possibly even take home a caterpillar to raise.
I have talked to some people who have raised monarch caterpillars and then released them as adults with tags. One book my daughters and I have enjoyed looking through that talks about raising monarchs is How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids by Carol Pasternak.
More information about tagging monarch butterflies can also be found on Monarch Watch here.
I took the picture below at a monarch butterfly program my daughters and I attended. I enjoyed watching the caterpillars munching away at the milkweed.
What will you learn today?