A friend from church raised butterflies last year as part of her home school curriculum. This year we and two other families decided to join in the butterfly farm fun. Six tiny caterpillars arrived in a six-ounce plastic cup with food on the bottom and tissue on the top. The girls enjoyed watching the little creepy crawlers who lived on the kitchen counter. I did too...at first.
On Sunday my friend assured me that caterpillars are not carniverous, and I assured her that our mutant friend most definitely was. She thought maybe I should remove him before he ate any more siblings. I told her there was no way I was opening the lid on that cup: better them than me falling to the jaws of the mutant larvae. One week after his siblings, he finally felt full and chrysalized. The second chyrsalis that he had dropped was still laying on the bottom of the cup, apparently not yet nibbled on. I felt relieved, four out of six isn't too bad.
We made a little butterfly habitat from a diaper box and some clear plastic with pin-holes in it. I dug up a dandelion and planted it in a cup in the box. Naomi created a fake branch for them from construction paper. I misted the box to keep it humid and prepared a sugar water solution for the butterflies to drink from a fake flower when they emerged. We taped the chrysalises to the top, including the fallen one, and it wiggled in protest as I strapped it down with a thin strip of scotch tape, so I knew it was still alive. Then we waited. Actually we totally forgot about them for a week. We are busy around here, you know.
Eventually even Jaws emerged, healthy and apparently less rabid. The girls named the butterflies, even though they couldn't tell them apart. They were named Bella, Claira, Lizzy, and Naughty. One evening I told the girls that we would need to let the butterflies go soon. Naomi and Emma agreed, but Hannah burst into tears. "No, Mommy!" she sobbed, " I love them!"
"Hannah, honey, they can't keep living in a box," I reasoned. "The dandelions have died, and they're not happy in there. If you love them, you'll want them to be happy."