So, here's the deal. We got this butterfly kit - which, let's face it, is more for the grown ups in the house than the two kids it was intended for. I really thought that these cute little butterflies would pop out of their cocoons and then flit around looking pretty. Well - that was partially true. But all the in between stuff has me equally grossed out and BLUSHING!
They started as larvae and came in a little plastic cup - about the size they ask you to pee in when you take your drug tests. Not that I know. I have... heard. Anyway. Moving on. They are little larvae in a cup filled with food packed on the bottom. All they do is eat and grow until they turn into caterpillars. But as they eat and grow - they poop. Soon the plastic container is filled with caterpillars and balls of poop. I skipped the photos during that gross stage.
Soon they started spinning silk - not around them, as I had imagined, but like cobwebs in the plastic cup. They stayed pretty quiet during that time and I obsessively checked them - sure that they were dead. Then, one by one, they travelled to the top of the cup and hung upside down. I do regret not taking videos during this time, because what happened was pretty wild.
The chrysalids would shake violently - which sent me to google for the first of many times during this process. It turns out it's a way to scare away any predators during this important stage in their life cycle. If you want to see what that looks like, you can click HERE to see a video I found on YouTube. When all four were chrysalids, I had the nerve wracking job of opening the paper cup - pulling out the paper disc they had attached themselves to - lowering the paper into the net butterfly habitat - and safety pinning it to the side. No pressure. Luckily, they all made it.
Again - I was obsessed - and checked them every two seconds to hopefully catch one as it emerged. I always seemed to be two seconds behind. Our first butterfly emerged right under our noses.
Brian named her Belle.
They suggested we feed them a sugar water mixture sprinkled onto a carnation flower or an orange slice so I settled on both. I'm determined to get the "Butterfly Mom of Their Life Cycle" award.
Belle was with us for about fifteen minutes before she had me in panic mode and rushing, once again, to Google. I thought she was bleeding to death and was hoping that a little boy who won't be named hadn't gotten hold of the habitat when I turned my head.
It turns out, the red liquid wasn't blood. When the butterfly emerges it's wings are wet, so it crawls to a place to hang and dry. During that time, it secretes leftover color from its wing formation...usually red. Crazy, right??
Soon after, despite my habitat-side vigil to try to capture any of them emerging, there were two...
We loved checking on them and watching them drink from the orange with their long tongue.
Once they were all out of their chrysalid stage, I figured I should remove that pinned on paper disc with all of the shells hanging on there. It was rather... unsightly, let's say. But then I thought - Oh no! What if those shells are like their placentas - and what if these are, like, hippie butterflies that would want to eat them? Maybe I should leave them in!! And then I quickly realized that I was over thinking things. And yes, I'm kidding.
Their official names, by the way, are Belle, Chrissy the Chrysalid, Ben the Butterfly and Painted Lady. Since the four of them have been living together, they've been very... shall we say... "active" with each other. We have no idea which ones are boys and which ones are girls - which ones are gay and which ones are straight. No judgement in this house! They have been doing this "mating ritual" with each other and, quite honestly, it's hard to look away. They vibrate their wings and purposely flop onto their back and flutter around violently - go ahead and see for yourself. (Over 18 only, please. ha ha!)
The coolest thing for me? We ended up with a "special needs" butterfly! In this video, their still having some "sexy time" with each other... and you'll notice the butterfly on the right has a funny wing on his right side. It's like he was born with a double wing - or his wing is somehow deformed. As it turns out, this is the butterfly that gets the most attention from the others! And he sure gets around just fine... believe me!
I have gotten very attached to these four little kids. Honestly, I must check on them forty times a day. And I know I'll soon catch them...you know. You know?!? And don't worry - I'll videotape that, too. I was told to lay the tissue down on the bottom because once they mate - they like something to lay their eggs on. Then what? I have no idea. Perhaps I'll have a side gig as a butterfly breeder? Stuff them in boxes and sell them to brides? I'm kidding. I think I need to get out more. Come to think of it, my need to get out more may lead to a few mating rituals. See how it's all a big circle? The circle of life!! Okay... I'm done.
If you'd like to watch the entire life cycle from caterpillar to butterfly - you can click HERE to see a cool video I found. This video is totally safe for work. *wink*