“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly” -Proverb
Every so often, when I feel as though Big Brother’s exploration of new topics is a bit stagnant or stuck, I’ll ask him directly, “What do you want to learn about?” A few months ago when I asked, he gave me a long list of some random things he has been thinking about and several of his questions surrounded butterflies. We spent some time reading books and watching videos of a butterfly’s metamorphosis. (This video in particular really piqued his interest) Big Brother became so excited about it, I decided that we should experience the butterfly life cycle first hand. I ordered a Butterfly Garden. When I worked in the schools I had co-workers who incorporated this annually in their classrooms, but I never tried it in mine. I think I was just as (if not more!) excited about this process as he was.
Our first round of caterpillars were unfortunately DOA. It’s pretty funny filling out an Amazon return form and having to give the reason for return as “dead caterpillars”. But it was easy enough to get a second round of caterpillars. In the beginning, there is not a whole lot of action out of these little larva. In fact, my boys gave the cup-o-caterpillars very little attention at first. Once they wake up a bit and start to eat, they don’t stop. In a matter of four days they had more than tripled in size! Very hungry caterpillar, indeed.
Despite my best efforts and constant watching, we were not able to see that magic moment when the caterpillars surrounded themselves with a chrysalis. (There has been some discussion of doing this all again to see if we can catch it.) Instead, they surprised us with their new forms. One very exciting morning, we awoke to find one of our hungry caterpillars had transformed! Meanwhile, his two buddies were also at the top of the cup preparing themselves for the same.
After allowing the chrysalises to harden, we moved them to the butterfly garden. And waited for the final transformation. Just as before, the butterflies chose to emerge while we slept. So once again we missed watching the actual moment. But waking up to a habitat of butterflies was pretty exciting all the same. We watched our butterflies stumble around and practice their flying. We fed them bananas and provided them flowers with drops of sugar-water.
After enjoying the butterflies for a few days, it was time to let them explore their freedom. Big Brother decided he wanted to make a “poster” so he would remember their life cycle. He also wanted to cover every flower in our garden with sugar-water in hopes that they would stay with us for a little while. It was a charming idea, but as soon as they tasted their freedom, they were gone. Took off fast and soaring high! Big Brother was pleased that one paused on his finger for two seconds before its departure. It was a lovely and fun experience; one I am sure we’ll do again, maybe next summer. There is a fantastic green house not too far from us that houses thousands of butterflies that I really want to take the boys to see. I think now that we have experienced this process it will be even more exciting to them.