Last month I bought a butterfly garden. It was similar to when I bought a Venus fly trap because I was thinking as I clicked the "Place Order" button: "This will be great for the kids, it will really teach them about nature" when we all know it had very little to do with the kids. From the first time I saw the Butterfly Garden I wanted to see caterpillars changing into butterflies.
The garden is really a collapsible net house which includes a coupon for the caterpillars (an extra $3) but within a week we had five tiny little creatures in a clear plastic sealed cup that were non-stop eating machines. The cup was half-filled with what looked like caramel which the caterpillars chomped right up, growing into enormous fuzzy beasts that soon attached themselves to the underside of the lid in five little swaying cocoons.
We took out the lid and attached it inside the butterfly house and waited. A week later five Painted Lady butterflies emerged--it happened much quicker than you'd image, I always thought it was like a baby being born and could take hours but it was only a matter of minutes. After they arrived they hung from the netting, their wings damp, dripping spots of color onto the napkin below like spots of watercolor.
We fed them by placing flowers coated in sugar water in the bottom of the cage and sure enough a butterfly perched on the petals, uncurled its proboscis and drank in little slurping motions that were fascinating to watch. The directions that came with the garden said that it was possible to keep the butterflies for a while until they laid more eggs but we decided to release ours on Saturday because it was a beautiful sunny day and I didn't think it would be a good idea to wait for more butterflies and risk killing them with cold.
Here's video footage of when we released them on the back porch. The only way I could get the kids to let them go was to promise we'd send away for more caterpillars next spring.
Interesting trivia: The difference between moths and butterflies? Moths have hairy antennae, are nocturnal and rest with their wings pointed straight out while butterflies have smooth antennae, are diurnal and rest with their wings folded upwards. Interesting . . . why are butterflies so pretty and moths rather creepy?
Technorati tags: butterflies, science, nature, insects
Monday, August 13, 2007