1. On May 10th, our Grade 1/2 class received their teeny tiny caterpillars. Each student chose one, named it, and was responsible for cleaning out the 'fass' (or poo) from their container. The yellow stuff in the container is ground hollyhock and thistle....the Painted Lady Butterflies favourite foods.
2. After about a week in our room (caterpillar age: 12 days), a 'J' formed in the container, attached to the paper in the lid. (The beige things in the container are the 'fass' that we had to clean.)
3. After about a day, the J transforms into a chrysalis. The fuzzy stuff at the top is the caterpillar's 5th and final 'instar' or shed.
4. After 48 hours, we transferred the chrysalsis' into our butterfly house. (As a side note, butterflies form chrysalis'....MOTHS form cocoons. :)
5. For about 10 days, the miraculous transformation occurs inside the chrysalis. The caterpillar actually liquifies and reforms (through metamorphosis) into a butterfly. On about day 10, the chrysalis' turn black as the butterfly prepares to emerge.
6. And then, very soon before they emerge, the chrysalis turns clear and you can actually see the orange and black wings through it. (A bit tricky to see through the mesh...)
7. We LOVED to watch this...the chrysalis shakes a bit and then in about 10 seconds, the butterfly crawls out. We were AMAZED and how quickly it happens and how scrunched up their wings are at first.
8. The butterflies hang for a long time, pumping meconium (the red fluid you see dripped here) into their wings to pump them up.
9. Once their wings have dried, the butterflies look for a food source. We were very excited to catch a butterfly in action, using its 'proboscis' (a long, straw like tongue) to suck up orange Gatorade. (the closest thing to nectar).
10. Our resulting Painted Lady Butterflies are beautiful!! We have loved watching this life cycle.