This week we finished up the Butterfly lesson we started several weeks ago when we all got our caterpillars in the mail. Most of the lesson happened at home, as we watched our caterpillars grow larger, form their crysalis and eventually emerge as butterflies.
The kids loved watching them in our habitat. It was so exciting to release them, and watch them explore the flowers in the front yard.
For our formal lesson, I spent a little time going over the body parts of both caterpillars and butterflies. We labeled our diagrams and talked about the lifecycles of butterflies.
Finally, the kids did a simple craft – coloring butterflies to hang as a butterfly chain.
This has been a great learning experience for us, and I know we will order more larvae. This may end up being a spring tradition for us, since it was such a hit around here!
As part of our Science curriculum, we have an ongoing project this Spring observing the lifecycle of the Painted Lady butterfly. We bought a butterfly habitat redeemed the enclosed certificate through Insect Lore. Within a few days we had five caterpillars shipped to us.
Our caterpillars (the butterfly larval stage) were only approximately 1.5 cm when they arrived, but they quickly doubled in size. Within a week we had 3.0 cm caterpillars in our little cup.
After a little more than a week from the time they arrived, our caterpillars started getting restless, and finally moved to the top of the cup to pupate. In our pictures, you can see how they hang down, in a sort of J-shape formation. Slowly the crysalis formed from the bottom upward. Within a couple of days, all five of our caterpillars were encased, hanging from the top of the cup. There was a thin piece of paper on the inside of the lid for transferring the crysalides to the larger butterfly habitat.
This past weekend, after more than a week in the pupal stage, our butterflies emerged! We now have five beautiful butterflies in our enclosure. It is so awesome to observe the butterflies up close, seeing their little body parts. For several minutes we watched our butterflies curl and uncurl their little proboscis, enjoying the sliced oranges I placed in the bottom of the butterfly house. We are still undecided on whether we will keep our butterflies for the entire lifecycle (waiting for eggs to be layed) or release them on an upcoming warm day.
One of our co-op members posted a wonderful resource on Painted Lady butterflies – this site has a lot of information and pointers for raising butterflies. While this project was done to follow along with our Biology curriculum, I think this is a great stand-alone project. And once you have the butterfly house you can always order additional caterpillars (the initial set they send is included in the price of the butterfly house, not including shipping costs).
This is the first in a series of posts about events at San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT). We LOVE the Garden! Its a wonderful place to spend a few hours, just exploring and relaxing. They also have wonderful events and educational opportunities available throughout the year. We attended the opening weekend festivities for the Amazing Butterflies Exhibit this fall. This exhibit is currently touring, and had been scheduled to run at SABOT through January 2012. However, it has been extended through March 25th 2012, so there is still plenty of time to check it out! The butterfly exhibit is wonderful – it is an interactive maze for children (and adults!) to explore the lifecycle of butterflies. Kyri had a blast when we went, and she keeps asking to return. Check out the interactives that make up the amazing butterfly exhibit! Another wonderful part of the exhibit is the curricula material that is available (aimed for grades 1 – 5) through SABOT. You can make the trip to the exhibit part of an in-depth unit study on butterflies!
Climb-in pupa pods
Spider Web Climb
Monarch migration monorail