Each year, I teach my daycare kids about the Life Cycle of a Butterfly. This is something I always look forward to. To a child, the whole experience really is quite magical. Last year, I decided to go beyond books and videos, and purchased a Butterfly Kit from InsectLore.com. Being able to show the kids the entire Life Cycle of a Butterfly in real time was amazing! We all enjoyed it so much that we did it again this year.
Life Cycle of a Butterfly
The life cycle of a butterfly consists of four separate stages. Each stage looks completely different and serves it’s own purpose in the insect’s life. The transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly is called Metamorphosis.
Stage One – Egg
Every butterfly starts out as a very small, round egg. The egg is about the size of a pin head. After about 3 – 5 days, the egg hatches.
Stage Two – Caterpillar
Out of the egg comes larva, or as we know it, the caterpillar. The caterpillar is very hungry, and immediately starts chomping through leaves. The caterpillar grows very quickly. If you order the Butterfly Kit from Insect Lore, you will receive 5 Painted Lady Caterpillars in a small cup along with all of the food they will need. In 7 – 12 days, your caterpillars will grow 10 times their original size, and shed their skin four times! When your caterpillars finally stop growing, they will be almost 2 inches long!
Stage Three – Chrysalis
When your caterpillars are all done growing, they will then make a chrysalis (also known as a pupa). In the wild, your caterpillar will attach itself to a branch or twig, but when you receive your caterpillars through Insect Lore, they will make their way to the top of the cup and attach themselves to a paper disk in the lid. When you see your caterpillars form a “J” shape at the top of the cup, they are about to form their chrysalis. Once your caterpillars have formed their chrysalises, allow them two days to harden before you transfer them to their butterfly habitat. After the two days, you will open the caterpillars’ cup, take out the paper disk, and pin it to the lower inside of the butterfly habitat. If any of the chrysalises detach from the paper disk, gently place them on a paper towel on the bottom of the butterfly habitat. One of my caterpillars actually formed it’s chrysalis at the bottom of the caterpillar cup! While your caterpillars are inside the chrysalis, they are becoming completely liquid and reforming themselves into butterflies!
Stage Four – Butterfly
After 7 – 10 days, your Painted Lady Butterflies will emerge from their chrysalises! At this time, you may see a red liquid called meconium. This is the part of the caterpillar that was not needed to make the butterfly. Your butterflies will need some time to dry their wings so do not disturb them until you see their wings have fully expanded and hardened. At this time, you may gently place your hand inside the butterfly habitat and let the butterflies climb onto your fingers. This is definitely our favorite part! Next, you need to feed your butterflies. To do this, you will need to mix two teaspoons of sugar into a cup of water. Soak a paper towel in the sugar water and place it on a paper plate at the bottom of the butterfly habitat. Butterflies also like fresh slices of oranges and watermelons!
Insect Lore Butterfly Release
The adult Painted Butterfly has a life span of 2 to 4 weeks, so it’s important to let them free within a week of them emerging from their chrysalises. Just be sure it is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Once you let your butterflies free, the life cycle continues. My boys and daycare kids truly enjoy watching this transformation take place and we’re already looking forward to doing it again next year!
A huge thank you to Insect Lore for providing such a fun way to teach our little ones!