It is 13 days since Catter (our first caterpillar) hardened into a chrysalis named Chrys. With the final caterpillar, Colin, shedding it’s fifth (and final) exoskeleton four days later, becoming Dr. Xand.
Although our chrysalides looked as if they were resting peacefully for the past 10 days, an amazing transformation was taking place. The caterpillar parts inside each chrysalis were liquefying and re-arranging to become the cells, tissues and organs of a beautiful butterfly.
Day 26: 27th May
We missed this butterfly emerging as we had gone swimming. When he first saw it, Cian was a bit surprised that the butterfly’s wings just looked brown, instead of colourful.
Our butterfly was resting on the side of the net.
Feeding the butterfly
Among other fruit, butterflies like fresh cut oranges, apples and old bananas. We scored the surface of the orange to crate puddles of juice, this makes it easier for the butterflies to sip.
Ioan mixed 50ml of water with half a teaspoon of sugar. This replicates the nectar butterflies would feed on. He used a pipette to drop some of this ‘nectar’ on to the slice of orange.
The moment the butterfly opened it’s wings and Cics realised it wasn’t brown after all.
“What colour is butterfly poo?’
Cici was very excited to have a very important question answered…
“Happy Emergence Day!”
Cian thought long and hard about what this butterfly should now be named. It was originally named “Cater” as a caterpillar, then “Chrys” as a chrysallis.. We weren’t surprised when he suggested, “Butter!”
Cics wanted everyone to sing to Butter the butterfly. This was their version:
Day 27: 28th May
Cici was very excited to see that the chrysalis on the right hand side had darkened and you could see the outline of the wings.
Two hours later we had a second butterfly. Cian decided that this butterfly, formerly known as “Pillar” and “Alis“, should now be called “Fly“.
The birth of a butterfly happens quickly. When a butterfly is ready to emerge, it takes in air through little spiracles (tiny holes) in the chrysalis. The added intake of air pressure helps the butterfly split the chrysalis open.
The butterfly will climb out of the split chrysalis with soft, crumpled wings and position itself, head upward, in a vertical position.
When the butterfly first emerges, it needs to sway from side to side, forcing the heamolymph (insect blood) into the veins of it’s wings in order to expand them to their full size.
“Look it’s showing it how to unscrumple its wings
The butterfly may expel a small amount of red meconium during this wing expansion. This is evidence that the butterfly is healthy. Cian was mortified that this meconium landed on the remaining chrysalis, “You can’t poo on your brother!”
Finny’s observation about the chrysalis.
When a butterfly emerges, its tongue (or proboscis) begins as two long strands or halves that must be fused together. The butterfly coils and uncoils the two halves during wing expansion. The two halves eventually form a tube-like tongue. The butterfly uses this tube to sip nectar.
Cics showing me what the caterpillar does with it’s tongue to eat.
We managed to capture the butterfly feeding on a grape.
Day 29: 30th May
Our third chrysalis started off as a caterpillar named Colin, then became a chrysalis called Dr. Xand (Cian couldn’t have a ‘Chrys’ without a Xand). Today he emerged as a butterfly named Keith.
The folded wings made it look like it had two on each side.
We could clearly see the two halves of it’s tongue coiling and uncoiling.
Day 30: 1st June
It’s a full month since our caterpillars arrived and having released Butter and Fly, we only have Keith left now.
Cian was happy that Keith had finally picked a favourite fruit.
DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)
ELG 14 – The world:
Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.