Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Caterpillar Chronicles

It all started with a cup of caterpillars. 
They arrived as tiny eggs, and over the course of about two weeks transformed before our eyes-at our table side even- into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies.

The process is really amazing to see up close and personal. Four out of the five eggs we received turned into butterflies. What happened to "Tiny," we will never know(of course, many a story has been told). On that note, we affectionately named them all. "Ronald" was by far the most popular in the group, and by the end of it all we were calling every caterpillar in that cup Ronald.
Day by day we observed mother nature in action, with little to no help from us. It's a small sort of miracle to see one thing completely change and become a whole new creation. 
These guys grew FAST! Basically, the cup comes with all the food they need to grow. And grow they do. It was so interesting to see these guys move and roll around up close!
Once they're ready, the wiggle on up to the top of the cup and hang in an "J" shape. I'm sure Bennett will always picture his "j's" like this. It's there that they form their chrysalides, and begin the metamorphosis into butterflies.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
After the outer shell of each chrysalis had hardened, we(Chris) carefully transported the cocoons to the butterfly house. We furnished their new home with flowers and apple slices, and then waited. The kit we bought from Insect Lore also comes with a pipette to feed your butterflies. You can make homemade nectar easily enough with sugar and water, but we mostly let the butterflies dip their long proboscis' in left over banana slices.

It was very exciting to come downstairs every morning to see the progress with each passing day. Try as we might, we missed the magical moment they emerged from their chrysalides-I think they were waiting till our backs were turned! One by one the came out of their chrysalides as new butterflies. Their wings were paper thin, beautiful and full of wrinkles to start. We watched them grow in strength, size and even color over the next few days before we released them into the wild world outside. It was pretty amazing.

To watch them grow in each stage, both as butterflies and caterpillars, was so interesting to the littles AND the bigs in this house. I am not a buggy person by any bend or stretch of the word, and will admit I was full of the heebie jeebies when these crawly critters arrived on our doorstep. But when it was time to let this new creatures fly, even I was a little sad to see them go. I took a few videos below, it was a fun and special moment!
Butterfly release! from Rebecca Scott on Vimeo.
Letting the butterflies fly #2 from Rebecca Scott on Vimeo.

I remember reading somewhere that experiencing things hands on, outside of a textbook, moves information from  the left brain to the right. Or rather, from short term to long term memory. I'm so thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling offers us and the many opportunities we have to take learning outside of our textbooks or four walls. While you can't always make that happen, this one is a winner and an A+ learning experience. Alongside our fun family project, we also visited the butterfly observatory at the Durham Museum of Life and Science. Interestingly, Evan is still skittish in the big butterfly house(he comes by it honestly) but was very hands on and comfortable with our own butterflies. He took many pictures of them on top of our yellow cabinet, read to them, drew them, fed them, and was all around a very brave friend and protector while they underwent their transformation. As for Bennett, we are thankful the butterflies survived him hehe.

Every now and then we catch sight of a new "Ronald" around the neighborhood, and always wave a friendly hello to our fluttering friends.

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