Life of a Butterfly

Flowergirl wanted a “butterfly birthday” for her third birthday. Appropriately, one of her birthday gifts was a butterfly garden habitat and a coupon for ten Painted Lady caterpillars. A crawly package with the name Cup of Caterpillars quickly arrived on our doorstep.

July 26:

caterpillarsA few days later, as if dancing to music only they could hear, the caterpillars climbed to the top and began the laborious task of a proper metamorphosis.

July 31:20130731_144514Soon the chrysalids hardened and took on a shimmery-gold sheen. I wish photos could convey the shade of gold. It was like a magic lamp that needed polishing, only instead of a genie, other magic was at work inside.

August 2:

Once the chrysalids were constructed, Orchid bravely and carefully transferred them into the butterfly habitat.

August 3:

We were all a bit discombobulated at this point as we watched the pupae wriggle wildly in their new home.

We waited and waited. Sunboy was put on butterfly watch so we wouldn’t miss the moment the pupae decided they were ready to emerge and stretch their new wings as butterflies. When they did, it was amazing.

August 7:

We followed the butterfly feeding instructions, gathering fresh flowers to which we added dollops of sugar water.

Some of the butterflies seemed to enjoy the camera and I took some great close-up photos.20130808_193134

butterfly close-up
Finally it was time to let them go, so we placed the butterfly habitat under the butterfly bush and opened the top. Nine of them flew out on their own volition and we cheered each time one went free. I uploaded a video of one of them releasing HERE.

August 10:

One of the butterflies (which Sunboy had named Crush) stayed nearby and gave Sunboy a special goodbye. This wasn’t the first time Sunboy had held a butterfly, but perhaps this time was more special because we watched Crush metamorphose and come into his own fluttery butterfly being before our eyes. We were quite taken with Crush and the “butterfly effect” he had on us. Ahem.

Sunboy holds butterflyWhat happened to the tenth butterfly? Well, he stayed at the bottom of the butterfly habitat for a few hours after his companions had left. Worried that something was wrong with one of his wings, I put my finger inside to let him climb aboard. He quickly walked on, and I could feel his tiny legs on my fingertip. The moment I lifted him out of the habitat, he flew away, higher than any of the others, over the trees and beyond. He just needed a little more help, like we all do sometimes.

Of course the kids decided to name them, and so this butterfly post is dedicated to:

Hoobie toobie
Chrys (as in chrysalis)
Zeem junior
and Joey, the last butterfly to spread his wings.

13 thoughts on “Life of a Butterfly

  1. This is the perfect birthday gift. Such a great idea. My daughter would love to have such a gift too. She is obsessed with caterpillars and butterflies.

    1. We’ve wondered if wild caterpillars would work too. It may be a matter of food and a place for them? Flowergirl has butterfly wings she loves to wear too. Another butterfly gift idea! There’s something inherently magical about them, like we all have a chance to start anew!

  2. Oh my goodness, Kat – that is absolutely the coolest, most magical thing ever! What a wonderful experience your family will never forget – just think they will tell their grandchildren about this! K

    1. We definitely enjoyed it, Kathleen….I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it as much as the kids and certainly loved taking the macro photos of them. It makes me wonder about all the magical things we pass by each day – things we know happen but never really watch. Rivers and clouds, the way plants reach for the Sun…

  3. I love the late bloomer part…it speak volumes and certainly is a fact, often the late bloomers fly highest. Beautiful Kat.

    1. Thanks so much! I liked thinking about the late bloomer too. Perhaps when we are made to wait longer for something we become more determined and certain of our destination.

    1. Thanks! We enjoyed sharing the journey with them and seeing the story of transformation in person. :)

  4. When spring comes to New Zealand I’d love to do this with my three year old. He’s just been revisiting “The Hungry Caterpillar” and seems to be very into butterflies at the moment. This is a lovely blog, which I found through a link on Carrie-Anne’s comment section:)

    1. Welcome, Marie, and thanks so much! Such wonderful news about Carrie-Anne. :) Yes, I think your son would love it. Looking back, I’m glad I could refer to the photo dates because the process seemed longer than it actually was. I guess all of us were just so excited and continually checking their progress. It’s something we’ll always remember! Take care and enjoy the spring – it’s already cooling a bit here in the US…

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