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Metamorphosis: A Journey To Adulthood

The boys and some of their unschooled friends have a terrific science project underway. Each family will raise 5 caterpillars from their toddler years through adulthood. Once they have emerged as a beautiful painted lady butterfly, we will watch them for a few weeks and then release them into the great outdoors.

We picked up the toddler ‘pillars on Thursday and the boys insisted they must name the little guys. Drama King named his Cat and Moe. Little T named his John Cena and Big Show. The last little guy remains unnamed but the boys have decided that he belongs to Tank. We hope to get photos at various stages and if lucky, we’ll get a video of a brand new butterfly as it emerges from it’s chrysalis.

It’s Chrysalis Time

A week later, we awoke to our first chrysalis. JC is beginning his metamorphosis stage. The remaining 4 caterpillars are now hanging from the lid this evening so we assume they will be in the chrysalis stage by morning. Oh and the unnamed caterpillar finally got a name, Turtle. Turtle was the last one to hang from his lid so he is definitely the baby of the bunch.

Homemade butterfly habitats with caterpillars at various stages of metamorphosis
Homemade butterfly habitats with caterpillars at various stages of metamorphosis

Shaking The Habitat

We watched last night (about a week after the chrysalis stage) as Moe shook the entire habitat in his attempt to escape the chrysalis form and emerge as a beautiful butterfly. This process is lengthy so we missed the actual emergence which occurred while we were fast asleep.

The boys watched the butterflies flutter around this morning and we will release them into the wild on Sunday. We have been opening the curtains so they can soak up all the sun rays they need. We also gave them some sugar water to drink.

The remainder of the caterpillars the rest of the unschoolers received are in various states. It’s amazing that all of these caterpillars came from the same source and were roughly the same age when we received them; however, they have all taken different amounts of time to become butterflies. One person noticed that each household’s caterpillars are on similar schedules but they differ from household to household.

This has been an interesting experiment for the family. I even had the boys put together a journal where they drew about each step of the process and “wrote” what they learned.

Butterfly Send Off

Two weeks after we started this project, we released our little butterflies. Tim setup the video camera on the tripod to capture the release on film but it appears the movie may not have come out very well so he’s working on it. While the camera rolled he also snapped a handful of photos of the release.

We opened up Little T’s cage first and John Cena and Big Show quickly fluttered away. Next, we opened Drama King’s cage. Cat and Turtle fluttered off behind John Cena and Big Show. Moe stayed behind and appeared to not have any interest in leaving. He hobbled around on the ground for a while until we noticed that one of his wings was malformed and he was unable to fly very far. The boys followed him around watching him while I constructed a wire cube with 2 missing sides to allow for easy access to the put food inside the cage. i covered the cube with a mesh laundry bag. We added a child sized clothes hanger at the top and hung the cage in the opening between the living room and dining room.

Drama King is worried about his new pet but at the same time is very excited about having a butterfly. He held her when we were attempting the release and we got a photo of him and Moe.

By Angelia Embler

Angi grew up in southern Arizona but now lives in central New Mexico with her husband, two sons and four dogs. She creates, answers @Yoast support, and loves to ramble. Find her curled up with a book or watching her favorite TV shows, movies, or American football game. ?

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