Saturday, April 21, 2012

Caterpillars Are Cool, Metamorphosis Rocks, and Butterflies Are Absolutely Amazing!

Aubrey recently received one of those Interactive Butterfly Kits for Christmas from her Grandma Moses.  I've always been curious about those things, so I was as excited as she was.  We waited until the weather warmed up and as soon as spring was upon us, we sent away for our little larvae friends.  They arrived in little cups filled with food.  All we had to do was find a nice place out of direct sunlight and let them grow.  

Here are our new little friends after they first arrived!

Here they are a few days later.  You can see that one is already getting ready to enter its chrysalis phase because it is hanging upside down in a 'J" shape.

This is absolutely fascinating to watch.  While I have always known that caterpillars form a chrysalis and become a butterfly, I guess I never put too much thought into exactly how it was done.  I figured that there was some scientific explanation for how they morph and change.  One day, I actually witnessed one going from caterpillar to chrysalis.  Talk about perfect timing!  It happens very fast.  Within a minute, I'd say, and the transformation was complete.  They hang upside down as caterpillars from the top of the cup with a strand of the strong, sticky silk they make.  They lay there still, every once in a while you will see it bounce a bit, and then back to stillness.  I happened to check in on them when I noticed on the back of one of the 'J' shape caterpillars, at the curve, there was this shiny silver stuff in a small circle.  I'm glad it caught my attention because before my eyes the shiny silvery membrane looking stuff began to spread down and up and all around the caterpillar all the way up to the tail and then it squeezed out the head from the top of the chrysalis.  It took a couple more caterpillars to go through this transformation for me to realize it was the head.  You can actually see one of the heads in the picture below.  It got caught in the silk and stayed there.  It is in the middle of the top 3.  The black fuzzy thing.  Below the decapitated head ... is our first butterfly to emerge from its chrysalis.  Wow!  Talk about amazing!   

At this point I had to start doing some internet research.  The pamphlet it came with didn't give any scientific description of the process.  It explained what to expect and how to care for them, but that was it.  It turns out that the caterpillar actually splits open its skin to reveal a shiny casing, the chrysalis.  I guess I always figured they made it more like a cocoon and built it around them with their silk.  Maybe that's why they didn't seem to mind losing their heads!  That, and apparently, inside the chrysalis the caterpillars turns completely to liquid and reforms itself as a butterfly.  

Um ... ok.


That is friggin' AMAZING!!!!

I watched the whole process and I gotta tell you, I still find it hard to believe.  I mean, we really can't come up with a better, more scientific explanation than it turns to liquid an, VIOLA ... it reforms into a butterfly?

I'm supposed to walk away satisfied with that as an explanation??

That is nothing short of miraculous!

But then ... science say miracles don't exist .... everything has an explanation.

Something has to give here people!  

This is an everyday miracle!  I'll take the magic butterfly trick as a valid scientific explanations and I'm going to continue to believe that miracles do exist and some things cannot be explained.  Some things just .... VIOLA ... happen!

It is also very inspiring to watch.  I mean, if something so little can make such tremendous change, what am I, myself, capable of becoming?  

I had so many "Aha" moments, I'm surprised Oprah didn't come over for tea.

Finally, all ten hatched from their chrysalis.  Fortunately, there were no casualties.  We had one slow poke, but he still made the magic happen.  Aubrey and I recently took a nice stroll through the Botanical Gardens in the local park near her preschool because we were a little early.  I instantly knew that this was the perfect place to release them into wild.  They have tons of butterfly plants and we can visit.  (I figure there is bound to be a butterfly that resembles one of the ten when we go).   :)

Bayne did not take the day of departure very well.  One look into those watery blue eyes and I could see how hard it was going to be for him to say good-bye.  I love that my boy has such a big, beautiful, sweet, compassionate heart.  He makes me so proud.  He nearly had me in tears, especially when I tried to draw an analogy to how one day he will be ready to move out and go to college and I will have to let him spread his wings and fly .... 

.... *****sob******....

But saying good-bye and knowing that you are setting something free to live a wonderful life is so much better than watching all ten slowly die in 2-4 weeks in a little web cage, thank you very much.  So we were strong.  :)  
(Remind me of this analogy when it's time for Bayne and Aubrey to move out, please!)

Aubrey was not phased by the good-byes.  She helped me find the spot where we were releasing them, so I think that made it more exciting, than sad.

To get ready for the big day we painted some butterflies in the morning.  Hoping a little painting would lift my little man's spirit.

We arrived at the Botanical Gardens and found ourselves a nice quiet spot off the trail.  

Here are all ten butterflies!  Can you find them all?

I lost track of all the names, but the majority were named after Sonic and Mario characters.

I think this is Yoshi. Or maybe Knuckles.  Or it could be Silver.  

We had one fly out pretty quick after we got there.  The breeze in the air really perked them up and they all began eating like I hadn't seen them eat before.  You could tell they were fueling up before their freedom flight.

Go free my little minions and do my bidding!

Here is a video where you can see two fly out!  So so cool!  Bayne was much more excited once we got there and he could see what nice place it was for them to be.

I was able to pull one out on an orange, so we could get a closer look.  They are stunning creatures.  We gently pet it's back tail.  It was kind enough to let us all get a gentile touch before he flew off into the wind.  They have this gorgeous brown fuzz on a them that is so soft.  

I see two Miracles!

The last butterfly flew out and right onto the rosemary bush next to us.  I tried to sneak in and get a picture, but his wings were closed.

I got an action shot of him, though.  I'm thinking this must be Sonic!  

These are the empty chrysalis left behind.


Be free my little butterflies!

Enjoy the cool breeze on your wings and the sweet nectar of life!

After that I let the kids spread their wings and enjoy a good hour at the park.  I enjoyed the new issue of my favorite magazine, Stitch. 

Sweet nectar of life ... ahhhhh.

We were all pretty tired out after all that fun, so we didn't get around to finishing our butterflies until just before bed.  Here are all the butterflies we made from paint, paper, glue, and an empty toilet paper roll  magic butterfly liquid.



and it's not fun unless Mom plays, too, so here is mine!

Thank you, Grandma Moses, for such a wonderful and magical gift. 

I think we may just do this again.

I know we will definitely be making another trip to the Botanical Gardens soon.

Now if I could only get that dang Crazy Town song out of my head ...

Come my lady, come come my lady
You're my butterfly
Sugar baby


1 comment:

  1. I think its great that the kids got to see the transformation. I also think it's great that you did the craft as well. Teach the kids you're never to old to have fun and be silly.