Jul 102015

Hatching Butterflies - What You Should Know

Watching a butterfly go through the stages of metamorphosis is an amazing experience. At least, that’s how I remember it from Kindergarten. I can remember the level of excitement in our classroom as we ran to peer into the converted milk carton every morning. “What’s it look like TODAY?!” we’d wonder.

A friend of mine gave my girls each a painted lady caterpillar in a small cup to watch it transform into a butterfly. “Oh good! Something educational and fun to watch in our very own home,” I thought. We set the cups on top of the counter and waited while the caterpillars ate through all the sugary substance inside the cup. The girls and I were so excited to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our new family members every night. My darling cutie pies even named their little creatures after each other. It all seemed incredibly sweet until I realized something… caterpillars poop.

I started to notice all these little pellets piling up inside the little cup. “Ewwwwwww….. she pooped mom!” So, that was educational. I also started having nightmares of little spiky caterpillars crawling up my arms and I couldn’t stop them. They were a little tiny army I couldn’t out run! Suddenly, I realize there isn’t anything magical about this early stage of hatching caterpillars!

It took several days for the little wiggly things to crawl to the lid of the cup, attach themselves and hang in a letter “J” just as the instructions stated they would. It was time to transfer the little creatures to their habitat (a new, poop free cup). When I opened the lids on the cups there was a horrible smell and the cocoons seemed stuck inside of a fuzzy web. Not at all a glorious site (or smell).

We attached the original lid to the inside of a bigger lid that topped a clear plastic deli tub. The girls wanted to add a little rock for the butterflies to feel like they were more in nature. Of course, nothing says welcome to nature like dangling upside down over a big rock. (At least it wasn’t a jagged rock?).

Hatching  butterflies 1

After the butterflies hatched we followed the instructions to leave them alone in their habitats for a few days. This allowed them to eat sugary foods, and let their wings dry. Although we did not see the exact moment the butterflies hatched, it was pretty magical to wake up in the morning and rush out to the kitchen to see this beautiful butterfly flapping its wings. That magic wore off quickly when we found…yep, more poop. (Who knew caterpillars and butterflies poop SO much?!).

hatching butterflies 2

Finally, it was time to release our butterflies. The instructions said, “don’t be surprised if the butterflies want to land on your little one and give a few kisses before flying away.” None of that happened. The first butterfly flew out so fast like it was on a jail break, breached the roof of the house and was gone in seconds. The second butterfly fluttered around for a minute, then flew over the side of the deck railing and directly into the grass. It was trapped there until my girls liberated it.

hatching butterflies 3

I feel compelled to share this with all of you as a warning. If your kid brings home a caterpillar you send it right back to the school and let the magic unfold there. If you do not have kids yet, file this one away for later. You’ll thank me.

Has anyone else hatched caterpillars at home? Am I the only one who didn’t know about the poop?

About Roxanne Ferber

Roxanne is a full time wife, twin mama and part time crazy lady. She is a charitable giver and a former Marketing Executive turned write-from-home mom. Roxanne lives on coffee, wine and the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. In her spare time she enjoys meeting other moms who keep life real- crafting, organizing and hiding veggies in her kid’s food. Find her at The Whatever Mom.

  111 Responses to “Hatching Butterflies: What You Should Know”

  1. I have never had to do this yet with either of my girls, but will keep your advice in mind if they ever do bring home a butterfly now 😉

  2. When I taught preschool, we would do this! It is so cool watching them go through the changes and finally flying away.

  3. I’ve gotten the kits before here to watch them hatch. It really is an amazing process to watch and a life lesson (literally) that sticks with the kids.

  4. ewwww gross. No I had no clue they pooped. I’ve always wanted to do it with my kids but most are too old now and after seeing this I don’t think my 2 yr old would like it. He won’t even eat apple butter because he thinks it looks like poop. Is that blood all over the rocks?

  5. This is such a cool and neat idea. I have never hatched a butterfly, but I would love to try it.

    • It is so neat to watch them hatch. We used to have tons of bushes that attracted them so we saw them every year.

  6. This is so neat! Thanks for sharing so I now know how to do it with my kids. This is going to be a great project for the summer.

  7. We’ve done this several times and love it! The boys got see them actually come out of their cocoons. I would certainly do it again and again!

    • This sounds so awesome to watch. I wish I had done this with my son when he was little.

  8. This is so cool and how much fun to be able to hatch butterflies! Both of my boys would love this idea and I adore that it’s a great way to teach instead of just being all about fun!

  9. My boys hatched butterflies last summer. It was fun for them!

  10. We’ve hatched Monarch butterflies before and I don’t remember too much of a poop issue! lol But, good to know! We did use Mason Jars so maybe the bigger container helped with the smell? lol

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve always though it would be super cool to hatch a butterfly.

  12. I’ve never tried hatching butterflies before, but the kids are still young enough that they’d love it. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  13. I’ve got to do this with the kids! They love nature shows and learning about the world. This would be so perfect for us.

  14. We love seeing all the butterflies around my butterfly plants. I’m sure my kids would love to hatch their own butterflies.

  15. We used to have trees back home that used to attract the cattepillers. We got to watch them hatch all the time and it was so beautiful.

  16. Very interesting. I didn’t even know you could do this at home. I would imagine being a little freaked out at the thought the caterpillar might get out somehow even though it probably wouldn’t happen, haha.

  17. Wow, who would have thought? Definitely good to know before I agree to bring caterpillars home to hatch. Thanks for the warning!

  18. I remember watching caterpillars grow cocoons and hatch in school…many many moons ago. It was very memorable for me. I’m glad I read about trying to do this indoors and we will definitely stick to keeping them outside. Last year we planted native milkweed to help the butterflies out, I hope we get some in our yard!

  19. Jail break haha! But they ARE educational and fun to watch, even if there’s poop. It’s part of life!

  20. Fortunately (or unfortunately), my girls are afraid of insects, no matter how beautiful they are! Thanks for the heads-up though.

  21. Oh my kids would LOVE this. I know my one daughter did something like this in school. I think it would be fun to do at home with my kids!

  22. I can’t help but giggle at this, but I’d be grossed out, too. They are so beautiful to watch, post having to watch the poop in the cup, of course. 🙂

  23. Ok, I’m just a little grossed out. I thought it’d be a glorious magical experience. But I know the kids would love it so I may have to just get over it.

  24. I never heard of the poop before. You learn something every day! LOL

  25. We saw an exhibit of this last week and my daughter was creeped out. I think we’ll try some other animal exhibits, but she may just have my disdain for them.

  26. Awe, what an amazing experience! I would love to do this with my little boy.

  27. We have done the same thing but did it outside in our butterfly home. It is an amazing experience and hands on learning for children.

  28. We have hatched butterflies lots!! This actually was the first spring we didn’t and the kids and I sure did miss the experience. I agree it’s a cool one!

  29. Interesting hatching butterflies learn a lot from this article a must for kids.

  30. We hatched a butterfly a few years back. Now we just go to the butterfly exhibit and watch them release them.

  31. OMG this such amazing experience. I love butterflies but usually see them in botanical gardens or butterfly gardens. To hatch one yourself, I guess I need to start working on this. Interesting post!

  32. For the record it is an amazing experience! My kids loved it and did not even notice the poop. I think I was more traumatized by it than they were. We love butterflies and science and exploring it all. Just had no idea how “messy” it was!! lol

  33. Interesting! My boys have always wanting to hatch butterflies, but I never really knew what all went into it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  34. That is so cool I would love to try that

  35. I recently saw a kit for this at TTPM – so cool! It’s on my summer to do list with my son because it seams like such an awesome experience. I love the idea of the butterfly kisses!

  36. Hahahaha, I think this is the BEST butterfly hatching story that I have ever read. It truly is all about the poop for kids, isn’t it?!

  37. I think my kids would love this. As a mom it does sound like it would be an interesting experiment for us.

  38. One year the husband gave me a butterfly sanctuary for my birthday. That was the coolest thing to watch the caterpillars form a cocoon and then hatch into butterflies. And then release them. So cool. It was a lot of fun for the kids to watch too.

  39. My son did an entire unit on butterflies that included hatching last year in first grade. They were such a huge hit with the entire class!

  40. Haha I’ve always wanted to get the girls one of those big net butterfly homes we see advertised in specialty magazines every now and then.. but we have not yet. I’m not sure the poop would be a deterrent for me but I laughed as I read our post because my oldest was gifted 2 turtles for her 18th birthday (hello friend she is leaving for college soon!!) and my little one always notices the poop!! And yep. turtle poop stinks!!

  41. This is such a neat way for kids to learn about nature. My sister bought a butterfly egg thing to use with her elementary school class. She said it was fun to watch.

  42. I have hatched butterfly’s with my kids before. It is an amazing experience. We captured it on video when one was hatching.

  43. We haven’t done this in years and years. We will have to try again because it is so fun and educational.

  44. Thank you for this great post. I will be doing this with my son!

  45. You know, I have never hatched butterflies but it sounds like something my kids would enjoy. I mean, it is a great lesson in life, right? Thanks for sharing.

  46. We’ve been able to see many butterflies hatch as we have a butterfly garden. It was really cool to experience but sometimes sad as many butterflies die as their wings dry. Since they can’t move until their wings are dried many lizards have gotten to ours 🙁

  47. Good to know! Somehow we never did this when my kids were little – and now I can see why!

  48. No catapillers yet, but my boys have chosen the wiggly worm route. They love digging them out of the garden, putting them in a car or dirt cup and torturing, I mean taking care of them over several days til wiggly worm stops moving or drowns when my three year old thinks it’s thirsty.

  49. I had no idea about the poop. Gross. But, my kids would love it. thanks for sharing.

  50. I have thought about getting one of those butterfly kits. I think my girls would really get a kick out of seeing the whole process!

  51. I’ve come across a couple pages on Facebook for tending monarchs. Sounds like people take this activity seriously!

  52. I’m dying. Yes caterpillars and butterflies poop. Everything that eats also poops. Haha. Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

  53. Such great advice, I actually worked at a daycare and was able to go through the whole caterpillar to butterfly transformation with my classroom, so much fun and the kids absolutely loved watching the stages it went through!

  54. Lol! This is to funny cause I never even thought about a butterfly pooping. #loveit. Learn something everyday!

  55. Oh wow, I didn’t even know butterflies pooped like that haha. Very pretty to see their wings though.

  56. This had me rolling!!! Too funny! I am all about keeping the creatures AT the school, lol!

  57. My children are fascinated with butterflies! They’ve seen caterpillars and butterflies but never one going through the transition!

  58. My nephew loves to do this. He’d go to their garden and watch out for caterpillars. He would get them and put in a jar and watch them transform. He’ll release them afterwards.

  59. This is such an amazing and educational experience for kids. I would love for my boys to witness metamorphosis first-hand.

  60. I really enjoyed your blog post today! I still have the curiosity of a five year old! I think this would appeal to children of all ages!

  61. The girls have seen this in one of their field trips. They love butterflies and they were so amazed to see those caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies.

  62. Butterflies are such beautiful creatures! Watching one transform is probably a great learning experience!

  63. That sounds like a fun idea to do with kids this summer. I have never tried doing it with my kids yet.

  64. I did this with my kids a couple years ago and didn’t know about the blood and the wings and I thought ours might be dying at first. LOL I did look it up and see that it was totally normal.

  65. Seeing the different stages when they transform is a great learning experience. I am always amazed at this beautiful process,more so with kids.

  66. I have not watched a butterfly hatch. But I think my kids would enjoy it despite the smell.

  67. I have never done that beforebut now I’m intrigued :)… Always live to see butterflies..

  68. We have never done this but I would love to try it!

  69. My hope is that we will be able to watch butterflies grow next spring, my kids opted for a fish over butterflies so we are currently taking care of her.

  70. We had silkworms for ours in kindergarten. Not an experience I enjoyed as a kid 😛

  71. That sounds like a very fun (and unexpectedly messy) process. It has been a while since we The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I don’t remember much about poop in the book. Great story – sounds like another magical moment with mommy!

  72. OMG! I am so going to get one of these to have this experience with my daughter. Love it!

  73. How cool is this! I never even thought about hatching butterflies, def seems like a learnign process. Glad you shared some of the experience with us!

  74. We watched how a butterfly grew from a cocoon to a caterpillar. It’s amazing how it has colorful wings. Whoa I didn’t know that they poop so much!

  75. I wanted to hatch butterflies this year, but I don’t think we are ready yet! What a fun experience… and rather educational!

  76. I have always been in awe of butterflies, but I have found their cycle stages to be less appealing. I didn’t know they pooped so much either! ~lol~

  77. This seems like it would be really fun for little kids. Will have to remember this.

  78. This is great! We totally did this when my sister and I were little!

  79. Bella had a butterfly hatchings in her classroom this year she was excited telling me about all of the different stages. I wonder if we should try it here at home too. Bella loves butterfly’s infact she has butterfly wall decals on her bedroom wall.

  80. I have always wanted to do something like this. I bet it’s a beautiful process.

  81. This is so cool! My son would love this. Might need to try it.

  82. This sounds like a fun experiment. I can’t imagine what the butterflies mess smells like. I wouldn’t mind doing this little experiment fir my kids though.

  83. This would be an amazing home school project idea!

  84. What an awesome experience! I think my 5 yr old would just love this experience. We recently grew grass in a cup so she would give it a haircut.

  85. I love butterflies, but this is totally not for me because I have fears of caterpillars. This is good for kids to do though. Maybe my son can do this with his dad. 🙂

  86. I would be a bit freaked out although I remember doing this in our classroom when I was in the 4th grade. My 3 year old is afraid of caterpillars and I’m not exactly a fan either. However my 10 year old would marvel as the transformation.

  87. We went to a butterfly house while in wisconsin last week. SO cook for the kiddos!

  88. My family would be so happy to try to do this ourselves. My son LOVES all things nature.

  89. This is so awesome. It is something I have been wanting to do with my children.

  90. I have always wanted to hatch my own butterflies with the kids. I remember doing it in school as a kid and it was so much fun!

  91. We did this once. And that was enough. It was a lot of work and my kids were OBSESSED. Yes, I’ll let them do it at school from now on!

  92. I just thank god I wasn’t drinking or eating anything when I read this, this post should come with a disclaimer. All creatures poop, and poop STINKS! LOL

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

  93. My daughter would LOVE to raise a butterfly

  94. This is so cool! I think butterflies are beautiful!

  95. LOL no I didnt know about the poop…is it that reddish stuff?? yuck…but beautiful at the same time so educational!

  96. I love this! My kids would love this–even the gross parts LOL!

  97. Haha! Love this post. I would hatch it at home, but then again I am a science teacher so I dig stuff like this…even the gross things.

  98. I had a friend in elementary school who’s mom use to have a butterfly farm. I use to love going over there and seeing all the butterflies she was raising for weddings etc. I never thought of hatching my own!

  99. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn about that much poop but if you think about it, it makes sense. Growing a whole new body has gotta be hard work!

  100. How fun! Butterfly are so beautiful and graceful that I figured they never pooped 😉 I have 3 boys though so poop is always a humorous topic in our household.

  101. Funny the natural things we don’t consider! I think nature shows probably only focus on the transformation – which is amazing – rather than the less pleasant aspects along the way.

  102. We did this in college while studying science for elementary aged kids. Always fun, no matter what! Poop and all!

  103. Don’t we already have enough poop to deal with? I’m not going to lie, I think I could deal with the poop to get to see the butterfly at the end. I still find it fascinating!

  104. we have not tried this one yet, but it sure is a very exciting + educational activity to do at home with the kids. now where can i find a hatching butterfly?

  105. I’ve always wanted to do that with my boys but one thing I keep putting on the back burner.

  106. Oh! So much fun to see them in stages. I have always wanted to do this. I love seeing life cycles like this. It’s a great way for the kids to understand what and where butterflies come from.