witnessing a butterfly birthday

earth day is coming up this weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to experience some of mother nature’s magic?! we’ve just witness a slice of this in our house — following a butterfly from the larva stage through to the butterfly stage before our widened eyes…

N has always been interested in the stages of a butterfly, from her favorite book as a 1 year old (the very hungry caterpillar, of course) to the awesome butterfly storybox she created last spring! (have you seen this thing?) N received this groovy butterfly kit from insect lore for her birthday, and while i’m not getting paid at all for this review, i’d recommend it to anyone. (great birthday gift!)

we waited until temperatures were seasonably warm, and sent away for butterfly larvae in the mail. when the container arrived, there were six larvae inside, which looked like super-small caterpillars. see:

about five days later, the caterpillars had grown much larger…

four days after that, the caterpillars had munched their way to their maximum size. (that tan stuff in the jar with them is their food.)

the had entered chrysalis stage only two days after that. it’s hard to see here, but five of them attached to the lid of the jar (as expected) but the sixth formed its cocoon on the bottom of the jar. we weren’t sure if that dude would make it, and ultimately and sadly, he did not.

now it was time to transfer the chrysalids to their new netted habitat provided in the kit. the instructions said to pin the paper to which they’d attached to the net a few inches above the bottom. my husband (the less skeeved-out one) did the deed with the little one lending support.

in their new home!

we watched and watched. and waited and waited.

and on the eighth day, our first painted lady butterfly pushed her way out, unfurled her wet wings, and was a beautiful butterfly!

over the next four days, all five butterflies were born! each day, we read one of N’s favorite books, butterfly birthday, and sang happy birthday to the butterflies as they came into the world in their new form. we put carnations drizzled with sugar water and tangerine slices in their habitat, which N prepared.

we hung out with them until the youngest butterfly was one day old.

on easter sunday, we brought the habitat into our backyard and unzipped it… one by one, we watched each butterfly take flight! it was so exciting for N …and for me and my husband, too!


what an a beautifully educational and magical spring activity to do with children! i think we might have to get the ladybug kit next…

how are you celebrating earth day on sunday?



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  • http://twitter.com/ChMuffinTree Melissa

    My daughter just witnessed caterpillars changing into their chrysalis at her school (they have this same kit, I think).  It is amazing because the caterpillars shed their skin and the chrysalis is underneath.  A lot of people think that caterpillars spin a cocoon. There are amazing videos on you tube of this transformation that my daughter watches over and over. 

    C would so love a kit of her own,,,,we may buy one…. and she would love the ladybug kit.
    This is an amazing book that we own about ladybugs and their transformation: http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Beetle-Rick-Chrustowski/dp/0805060588

    We love caterpillars and butterflies…C caught 10 red admirals over the weekend….they must of been traveling through because we didn’t see them the next day.

  • http://paintcutpaste.com/ jen | paintcutpaste.com

    thanks melissa! N did this at school last year with butterflies and ladybugs and loved it. i’m so glad we did it at home though because i’d yet to witness it! so very cool! N would love the ladybug kit, as well. maybe in the summertime… i’ll have to check out that book, too! thanks!

  • http://kindergartenbasics.blogspot.com/ Susan Case

    We did this in my kindergarten classes and the kids loved it. Wonderful photos. I’m following you from KBN and hope you will visit my blog sometime.

  • http://paintcutpaste.com/ jen | paintcutpaste.com

    thank you! i’ll check out your blog now, susan!

  • maggy

    Wow how amazing that you got to “hold” the butterfly!!! Ours are currently “Hungry Caterpillars”. Can’t wait for them to continue to develop. So fascinating!

  • http://paintcutpaste.com/ jen | paintcutpaste.com

    yeah, it was the fifth and final butterfly to leave the habitat, and it clung onto my daughter for a while before flying away… she was psyched! have fun with yours, maggy! such springtime magic!

  • Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com

    This is totally awesome! Perfect way for kids to learn the magic of caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfy.