Zippy with Painted Lady Butterfly

We had to let our butterflies go. It was sad and exciting at the same time. If butterflies could be considered friends, then ours were. We spent lots of time watching them over the past month. We (not just the kids) were very interested with the famous transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. I’m sure it it ranks with the most amazing things in the world.

We ordered the caterpillars from insectlore.com. They sent us two cups with five caterpillars each in the mail. When our caterpillars arrived they were teeny, tiny things. Within just days they had grown multiple times their size. If my kids grew that fast, they would have to go naked, because they would go through three sizes of clothing every day.

Painted Lady Caterpillars

This is a picture of some of the caterpillars just before they cocooned and one already cocooned.

The timing on our butterflies wasn’t the best for us. As soon, as they arrived, I started calculating and realized that they would start coming out of their cocoons while we were camping and birding in Malheur. (See previous post.) Sure enough that is what happened. So we had them in these little cups riding around in the cup holders in our car until we arrived a our hotel in Bend, OR. I was sure we had cooked them to death in our car, because it was so hot in Malheur; but they survived it. I pinned these little paper disks to our "cage" and by the next morning, we had a couple of butterflies. Whew! Just in time.

Painted Lady Cocoons

The one in this picture that is out of focus was shaking because it’s trying to get out. The cocoon would start shaking and then sooner or later the butterfly would just pop out. When they actually came out, it happened very quickly. Then, you’ll never believe this, they got blood all over the place. I had no idea that this was a bloody operation. I had to clean the counter where this "cage" was sitting several times. (After all, I didn’t want the hotel to kick us out because of our pets!)

We kept them as butterflies for a few days, but I had the feeling they would probably survive better outside  than inside, plus we wanted them to be able to reproduce, so we let them go. We’ve already voted that next spring we’re going to watch tadpoles become frogs. We’ll see if that’s still what we think then, but I’m already excited…although if butterflies were to get loose in my house, no problem…but frogs!!

Painted Lady Butterfly

Fly away butterfly!

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