For Easter this year I bought my kids THIS live butterfly garden kit on Amazon. I paid about $12.00—the price fluctuates quite a bit, plus you pay $5.00 for the caterpillars with the voucher that comes with the box. We made sure to wait to have the caterpillars mailed to us when it would be warm enough, so we waited until the end of April to have them shipped. They arrived on May 4.
I was surprised at how small they were compared to the pictures in the booklet they come with. But five teeny little caterpillars they were. Little did we know how very fast they grow!
The cup has a paper lined lid that the caterpillars will form their chrysalis on.
Four of the five were ready to go! And they were much much bigger than they arrived!
We woke up to find those four already formed into a chrysalis. The gold specks are so cool!
And the fifth decided to join the party.
After you let them harden for a couple days, you take the paper and pin it to the side of the butterfly net.
Day 18: I got home from a field trip to see that one of them had come out of it’s chrysalis!
I was really really hoping I could get some pictures of at least one of them coming out. It happens SO fast. Seriously, you see the chrysalis move and then 5 seconds later it is fully out. Poppy and I were lucky enough to watch one come out when we were supposed to be leaving to get the kids from school (luckily we weren’t late).
When they come out, their wings are crinkled. Notice the dark chrysalis on the right? That one will be next. The lighter one the newly emerged butterfly is next to was the last caterpillar to form a chrysalis. If you look again at the one on the right, you can see the orange on the wings. Pretty cool. Be prepared for red stuff getting everywhere. The booklet said it was meconium. Appetizing right? ;)
We missed the third one coming out—it happened during a half hour time when no one checked it and then when the kids came up from watching their show, there were three butterflies. I knew the one caterpillar was a day behind and likely wouldn’t come out that day.
We sat and watched that fourth chrysalis for a while, hoping to catch the butterfly coming out. We were about to give up and I was on my way back into the kitchen when I noticed the chrysalis moving and out it came—again, so fast that I felt really lucky my boys got to see it happen as well. Here’s the fourth one coming out.
They started shaking their wings and worked on flapping them a bit. They didn’t really seem interested in the orange or sugar water at this point, nor did they really fly around much the first day.
Day 19: They were interested in eating this day! They also flapped their wings a lot more and a couple of them flew around a little bit.
They were flying around so much the kids and I were afraid they were going to hurt their wings. And it seemed like a perfect day to set them free because it was the last day of school. The kids received their freedom for the summer and so did the butterflies.
One of them flew out right away and the kids yelled “Bye Butterfly!” While this one inched it’s way out, another one flew away. They were way too fast to get a picture of even.
Since this one was taking it’s sweet time…
I encouraged the kids to see if it would climb on their fingers.
And it did! They got to hold this little guy for a couple minutes each—they just kept trading it around, all completely loving every minute of it. It was so cool. I’m so so happy this one decided to stick around and let them hold it. In the meantime we watched the other two leave quickly as well. There was no holding the other ones even though they tried with the last one. They actually caught this one once more hoping to hold it longer. It didn’t fly too far the first couple times so they were able to catch it easily in the neighbor’s yard. But as soon as they opened the net again it was off as quick as the others.
It was so fun! I think it will become a yearly tradition for sure. I might just wait and order the caterpillars to come about the last week of school so that they can watch them a little more. I also might have them record their observations and learn a little more about them to make it even more educational. I’m so glad we did this though, it was awesome. My kids really enjoyed it and I think Dillon and I did almost as much as them!
(update 6/2016. I added an affiliate link in this post, which means if you purchase after clicking that link I receive a small compensation. I did not receive this product for free, I purchases it full price on my own without anyone telling me to :) . The price has also gone up since posting this a few years ago.)