Finally, 5 healthy caterpillars arrived at our door. Crumpet was ecstatic. Me too! They come with all of their food and you just leave them in the original container until they make their chrysalides.
The guide says that after 7-10 days, the caterpillars will attach themselves to the top of the food jar and begin to spin chrysalides. Ours did it after 2 days.
We removed the top of the jar and attached it to the mesh of the butterfly house. The chrysalides vibrate madly when disturbed, which is pretty freaky. Apparently, it's a self-defense mechanism.
An empty chrysalis, which means...
Butterflies! This was also supposed to take 7-10 days, but only took 6 in our case. All 5 butterflies emerged. The directions come with a recipe for sugar water to feed them. You place it in droplets on fresh cut flowers. They recommend carnations. We used our own sunflowers and marigolds.
The butterflies live for 2-4 weeks. They lay eggs after a week or 2 so it's best to set them free so they can lay the eggs in an appropriate place. Crumpet wanted to set ours free right away so they could be happy in the wild. (I've trained him well!) None of our release pictures came out well, but in this shot, there is a butterfly on my husband's finger. Really neat. Now whenever a butterfly goes past, we say "Maybe it's one ours!". I totally recommend this project - the whole family learned a lot and really enjoyed it!