One of our summer projects was to acquire some caterpillars from Insect Lore in order that we might observe the process of metamorphosis.
We ordered our kit online and, when it arrived, we sent away the voucher inside to order our caterpillars. They arrived a few days later in a plastic pot containing everything they need to eat and grow. Unfortunately, our first lot all died within a few days, but they were under guarantee, so I was able to return the pot and we soon received a replacement. This time we had more luck, and the boys enjoyed observing the caterpillars with their magnifying glass, measuring them and drawing them. They grew so fast!
After 7 days, the caterpillars attached themselves to a paper disc inside the lid of the pot and hung in J-shapes. It was time for them to transform into pupae. It was amazing to watch one change right before our eyes! Later, we carefully removed the paper disc from the pot and pinned it to the netting of the butterfly habitat we had received in our original package.
It was another 7 days before we noticed the pupae darkening and we knew it was almost time for our butterflies to emerge. We were so anxious not to miss it that the boys sat observing one pupa for an hour and were thrilled to see it finally split as a brand new butterfly was born! Truly beautiful, and an amazing thing to watch!
There was a red, blood-like liquid which the butterflies emitted as their wings unfurled, but the notes informed us this was a kind of meconium substance. After hatching, we observed our butterflies in the habitat for several days. We put in fresh twigs and flowers each morning and fed them a mixture of sugary water. We couldn't keep them long, though. It seemed unkind when their lives are so short. The best moment was being able to release them in our garden and watch them flutter away, but not before they landed on delighted little hands momentarily!
Even our toddler was fascinated by this whole process, and continued for some days to go over and look at the pupa disc, then pointing at the sky outside and saying "Butterfly!" Eric Carle's "Very hungry Caterpillar" has become his new favourite book!
We have since spotted a number of beautiful peacock butterflies in our garden, and observed them with new interest! I shall be checking out the Insect Lore website for some of their other observation kits! Recommended!