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Sunday, June 08, 2014

2014 Butterfly Encounter

This year, our class got 20 Painted Lady larvae but released only 14 butterflies in the garden early June when it was warm enough and lilacs were already in bloom. Whatever happened to the other six larvae, you might wonder. Just like before, the big cup of artificial food that came with the kit was not enough to feed all the hungry caterpillars that were growing each day. As always, I bought hollyhocks to sustain some of them. What was unusual though was that some ate only a bit of the hollyhock leaves while the others just shied away from them and had to be returned to their artificial diet, which was nearly gone. Hence, I prayed that they all morph into chrysalides over the weekend (before they all starve to death) and most of them did except for three that eventually died from starvation and one that was stepped on after falling through the net. This week, 14 beautiful Painted Lady butterflies emerged from their chrysalides while two chrysalides turned black, which means that the pupae had probably died of infection. I moved the two out of the butterfly house carefully so as not to break them as I suspected that they might have the foul odour of a rotten egg, and all 18 children would be screaming “Eww!” The only thing I wanted after the children’s daily observation and reporting on this life cycle and metamorphosis was for them to admire this wonderful creation.

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