All creatures great, and small. This science experiment was transformational, humbling, and left me in awe and wonder having much gratitude and appreciation for the supreme being. I lived an experience I wish, I did as a child. It’s never too late to live your childhood dreams even when, old and gray (as in my case). Excitedly this project was a success and will be a yearly commitment. See our crafts project here Our journey for eggs gave us many caterpillars, chrysalis, and then monarch butterflies. We had three weeks of discovery, arts and craft, puzzles, books and science dedicated to butterflies. We witnessed the miraculous metamorphosis one by one and within 10-12 days the butterflies kept coming out. They usually emerge from the chrysalis within 10-14 days but all ours came out within 12 days.We stocked the old worm box with caterpillars and milkweeds. We made sure to pick lots of milkweeds – that’s the plant these monarch caterpillars eat. The milkweeds were stored in the refrigerator to keep it from drying out. The Hungry Caterpillar book reference how much the caterpillar gorges and that is exactly what they did. They chewed down and would not stop eating until one day they climbed to the top of the container made, the web and hung. It was a discovery for us all to see caterpillars weave webs that helped them to hang.
The first hungry caterpillar turned to a chrysalis within one day.We almost had one casualty. Apparently, when we picked milkweed to store and feed them, we didn’t see this one was hidden in a batch of leaves we stored in the refrigerator, it almost didn’t make it. See how pale it is compared to the other. These little things are adaptable and their bodies help generate heat even when it cold. Yes, it changed color from being in the cold but within three days it blended in and looked like the others. It almost doesn’t look like a caterpillar.One by one they all formed and we had many chrysalises. Each child got to take home their chrysalis, families partook of this activity and all were involved. We had enough to give my intern and other children. In total, we had 10 that emerged including the one that was in the refrigerator for four days.I attached most of the chrysalis to sticks with hot glue – got this idea from the internet. I wanted each child to have their own instead of having them all in one container. Handle the chrysalis carefully as they, are very fragile and may burst open if dropped. Plug in your glue gun when it is hot and ready to use, squeeze out some of the glue onto the stick, fan a little to cool, you don’t want it very hot. Glue should be pliable for the chrysalis web area to the stick to it. Hold and let cool together so the chrysalis doesn’t fall. Repeat the process.Our science journey.The collection of the caterpillars and watching the metamorphosis is by far one of my favorite science activities yet. The first butterfly I kept for some hours because my children were at summer camp, and I wanted them to release it as number one was theirs. We gave it some gatorade (someone on the internet alluded to the gatorade option). As soon as my children got home they released it. It flew and landed on some flowers and would not move again. At first, I thought it was incapacitated due to the hours in the container but it eventually flew farther and my soul felt right.Visit your forest preserves, forest or wooded area that have milkweeds or native plants for butterflies and hopefully you will be as fortunate as we were to get this intimate science experience. We are thankful to Dupage Forest Preserves for giving the community so many open spaces to connect with nature.
Our hunt last year gave us moth caterpillars….lots of it.
This year we got lots of monarch caterpillars. Seasons change, last year is not this year and we remained positive and are happy with the results.