Monday, August 13, 2007

Raising Butterflies in a Butterfly Garden

Painted Lady CocoonsLast 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.

Painted Lady ButterflyWe 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?

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35 comments:

JaniceNW said...

Because moths fly around your bedroom ceiling lights at night and scare you!!!

Your backyard is absolutely gorgeous. I keep telling hubby Alaska is for us. He says no. Wah. Dumb boy was raised in Santa Barbara and likes the heat.

Robin said...

What a cool thing to do, and I love that you let them go. I'm sure they were delighted to find themselves in your gorgeous, and oh so GREEN, backyard, too. I'm in serious backyard lust over here LOL.

Heffalump said...

#3's Kindergarten class got to raise butterflies. He really enjoyed it and I have thought about ordering one of those kits ever since.
I still have fond memories of hatching a monarch butterfly as a kid.

~JJ! said...

Isn't that a great kit?

We had so much fun doing that too...

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Oh how interesting... I didn't know you could raise butterflies! Sounds like a fun project - I'll have to try it out with my kids!

Tammy said...

How fun!!

Heather said...

Oh yeah - moths are definitely creepy!

Julie Pippert said...

We've done the frog and ladybug versions, which the kids love. We promised next year (last year was frogs, this year was ladybugs) we'd do butterflies. It's so cool and we did release the ladybugs, although the frog unfortunately errr didn't make it long enough to figure out what to do with him (other than walk down to the lake for a froggie funeral).

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

laura said...

How fascinating!! I want to do this now...for the KIDS, of course. :)

Rebecca said...

I had a catepillar named Matty Mo, after then-Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris, who never made it to butterfly-dom. Sigh.

Thanks for posting the video-- your kids are adorable! It was very cool to really 'see' them!

Mommy Babble said...

Beautiful. Raising butterflies sounds like such a great idea.

We love butterflies here, though my oldest is convinced they are all actually faeries. :)

crazy working mom said...

Very awesome idea...you didn't include a link so that we can do the same! :)

Lei said...

Fun! I agree, moths are creepy.We sued to get huge (3+ inches in diameter) moths on our lanai in Hawaii.

Morning Glory said...

How utterly fascinating! I loved this.

melody is slurping life said...

I've always wanted a butterfly garden. I think you've persuaded me.

Daisy said...

Some moths are very pretty. I think people sometimes dislike moths because they are nocturnal; they fly at night and congregate near lights such as prches and bedroom windows.

pussreboots said...

What a great coincidence. I was just reading about the differences of moths and butterflies to day. Then I stopped by and read your post.

Scribbit said...

The first sentence has the link to Amazon where I bought the garden.

SabineM said...

I have a venus fly plant. Very cool and a bit creepy!
I am still waiting to see it "eat"anything

I am really interested in this butterfly growing kit. I went on AMazon and it didn't give me idea on seasons. I can see why you release them now where you are, but I live in Southern Cal, coast side, and it is nice all year round. Though, not sure if it is butterfly nice. ANyone know?

And JANICENW, hubby is from Santa Barbara and likes the HEAT? SB is not hot!?!? It has got perfect weather! ;-)
But I agree with you, I LOVE ALASKA...I try to convince my hubby to move somewhere that is more GREEN then CA! Though, I am not sure my husband would survive the dark Winter. He gets SAD!
;-)

Nesting For Natalie said...

How fun!

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

My children would love something like this. I'm going to have to talk to hubby about getting one. Hey what better way to have a science project they can learn about, right?

Patois said...

We loved doing that. The only trouble we ran into was the sadness when two of the butterflies failed to emerge. Much sadness from the daughter and the littlest son. We're all recovered now, 18 months later.

Biby Cletus said...

Hello

I ended up here at your blog searching for blogs on resources related to labrador retrievers. cool blog you have here, keep it up. i'm also interested in dogs and do have a Labrador Retriever named devil ( named after the phantom's dog - i was a huge phantom fan in my childhood ) any way its nice to be here. i'll be back some time later for more updates.

Warm Regards from India

you might find this Labrador Retrievers in our blog interesting. do leave comments there. see ya.

Bijoy

Kerala, India

Donetta said...

Too cool! Every spring our local botanical gardens have a habitat and we see over 300 in a small 20x20 foot enclosure. It is so beautiful! I loved this post,
Thank you for taking the effort to share with us.

Lisa said...

That is the coolest idea. That is a really neat gift idea... Ohhhh.

Thanks for sharing that! I'm off to find something along those lines.

Oh can I admit right now that I watched the video mostly to hear what your voice sounds like. You are one of those bloggers I'd LOVE to meet.

Larry said...

That's a fun idea for the kids. Seeing a butterfly emerge from its cocoon would be great. It's a nice way of keeping them distracted from watching television.

chelle said...

I think the Easter bunny is going to bring Butterfly Gardens next year :)

Beautiful!

K T Cat said...

What a totally cool post! I love it!

J Fife said...

Love the Butterfly Garden! That was one of the most fun things I've done with my daughter so far.

kailani said...

I've been to a butterfly farm but have never actually tried to raise them. I'm afraid I'll kill them like I do my plants.

Lisa said...

I also like butterflies. Having them in your own backyard is a good idea. I'm sure the kids would love it.

crazy working mom said...

Duh! Sorry 'bout that...didn't realize that was a link. Lost my brain I guess. :)

Thanks!

Blondie said...

You are such a fun mom. And now I really really want to grow my own butterflies!!

Susan said...

What a fantastic idea, Michelle! So fun and educational. You know, one of the most special memories I have is of walking through a butterfly garden. It's just magical.

Katie said...

I bought one of these exact things for the kids this summer as well! It was such a treat & we'll be doing it again in the near future.