Thursday, July 16, 2009


We spent the last couple of weeks raising our own butterflies! I had been looking at this kit for ages, and really wanted to try it. But... I was really worried it wouldn't work and Crumpet would be crushed. Finally, I read about someone who used it successfully (Rose Cottage), and I ran out to the store that day! The kit comes with the mesh butterfly house and a mail-in form to order caterpillars. The caterpillars are included in the purchase price, but there is a $3 shipping charge. Here's what you REALLY need to know. Do NOT do this in the summer unless you can sit at your mailbox for a week or two until they arrive. I checked my mailbox every 1-2 hours for a couple of weeks. Seriously. And still, when I pulled them out of the mailbox, they were crispy. Dead. Fortunately, Crumpet was not with me at the time, so I hid the evidence. Insect Lore guarantees that you will end up with at least 3 butterflies, so I called and asked them to FedEx new caterpillars. I fully expected to have to pay extra, but they sent them free! They did tell me that even an hour in a mailbox at 90 degrees will kill the caterpillars. So beware...

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!

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