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Raising Painted Lady Butterflies

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It has become a favourite tradition at Windermere Kids to raise butterflies in the spring. This is our 3rd year in a row that we’ve raised butterflies from caterpillars and we continue to enjoy this awesome experience.

We ordered our caterpillars from Lucy’s Butterfly Farm. They sent us about 27 of them and they came in this container.

The yellow stuff you see in there is their food which contains a mix of soy flour and wheat germ and some other nutrients. Aren’t they adorable?! For the first few days, they stayed together and continued to grow. Then, we divided up their food into smaller containers and separated the caterpillars.

As you can see, we added a piece of coffee filter at the top. This helps to keep moisture away and it is also where the caterpillar will adhere to to build its chrysalis later. Now the caterpillars were ready to share with each classroom!

The children were super excited to meet their new pets. They picked out names for them and watched them crawl around. It was interesting to do this project with all of our age groups as they each got something different from it. Here you can see our older preschoolers reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and learning all about metamorphosis. They were so excited to be a part of the whole process.

After a couple of days, our caterpillars were nice and fat and their containers were ready to be cleaned. The little yellow spots you see are their droppings. We cleaned them out so the caterpillars were able to reach their food. Some of the older children got to help with this also.

Once the caterpillars were ready, they attached themselves at the top of the container on the coffee filter in ‘J’ form. Then they began to build their chrysalis!

It takes a few days for this process to be completed. Once the chrysalis is completed, we transferred the coffee filter into the butterfly cage. We simply taped them to the top of the cage. And then the waiting begins!

After about a week, the first butterfly came out! We promptly kept the cages where sunlight would hit them, as the new butterflies need sun to warm up and pump their wings.

Aren’t they beautiful? The children were so excited, and they spent hours watching the butterflies fly around.

We filled cotton balls with orange Gatorade (it’s in the instructions, we promise!) and put them in the cage for them to drink. That was also really fun to watch.

After a few days of watching our butterflies, we got to release them! This was perhaps the best part for the children to experience. The butterflies need body heat to warm up so we got to hold them for a few seconds before they flew off.

This was definitely an amazing project to do and we hope we inspired you to do the same at home. It requires very little work and it is a truly wonderful way for children to learn to appreciate nature.

Green Apple KidsRaising Painted Lady Butterflies