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?).
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?!).
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.
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?