Last week, we started a short caterpillar study, short because they pupated faster than expected due to the heat. Before long, we had three beautiful chrysalises plus a deformed dud (or so I thought). Before the big day, we spent a few minutes talking about what the butterflies might need once they emerge. We talked about gathering flowers and making nectar like the kind we make for hummingbirds.
They started their metamorphosis last Wednesday (June 23), so I expected to see the butterflies no earlier than Wednesday (June 30). They were right on time! While Pamela, David, and I were busy delivering meals on wheels on their due date, two butterflies were busy emerging! We prepared some nectar and went outside to find a flower, which we sprinkled with sugar water. We missed seeing the third butterfly emerge, but I'm sure we will find more opportunities during the summer now that we are equipped.
Then, something terrible happened! I went to clean out the food container and a butterfly had emerged in that horrid little cup with slightly deformed wings. The chrysalis didn't look right, and the tail end of the caterpillar was sticking out. I assumed it would amount to nothing and left it in that nasty cup. I felt like a horrible mother, letting it emerge in such an awful place and, perhaps, in the real world, this butterfly would have ended up as some bird's lunch because of its challenges with flying. However, it is thriving in our little mesh cage.
Later that day, we studied the butterflies and made our journal entry. First, we sprinkled nectar on the flower. Then we talked about what we noticed about the butterfly's body. We became confused because we only saw four legs, and butterflies are supposed to have six. Apparently, painted ladies fold the front legs and tuck them into the thorax, deceiving the eye. Eventually, we got around to drawing our pictures, observing how our pictures were different, and discussing what we would write in our nature journal.