Saturday, October 2, 2010

Caterpillar Investigation, Part 3

When the kids and I went out to observe the caterpillars on Wednesday afternoon, two were mysteriously absent. Several theories were suggested including, "They left," and "Birds got them." I had another theory. I suspected they were ready to make their chrysalids and had left to find a good spot. I know Painted Ladies eat and eat and eat for a week to ten days or so before beginning their metamorphosis, so I suspected a similar timeline here. I also know that some caterpillars will make a chrysalis right on the host plant they eat but others will move to a nearby location.

Since I am unsure of where these particular caterpillars may choose to transform, I suggested we put a couple in our butterfly house so we could watch them more closely. I would have preferred to keep watching them right were they were, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the metamorphosis. Upon hearing my suggestion, my daughter ran to tell her brother (who had gone inside for a minute). They both raced back and my daughter said, "Mama, D has a good idea! He thinks we should put some parsley inside so they can eat it." A good idea indeed! In the parsley went with two of the caterpillars. (We left the final one where it was).

On Thursday, one caterpillar had attached to a surface and stopped moving while the other did laps around the house, up and down the screen. By Friday, both caterpillars had attached themselves to the solid part of the butterfly house (as opposed to the netting)- one at the top, one at the bottom. They both seemed to have their "mouth end" and the "other end" attached, so that their bodies looked like a comma.

Then, today, came the big excitement. Both caterpillars are "gone." In their places are two chrysalids. The kids were so excited. My daughter raced to get her grandfather so he could see them.

Now we wait
And we watch.
And we watch
And we wait.
Until something wonderful and magical happens.

What do you think, readers? Will butterflies appear soon? What kind will they be? How long do you think they will remain in the chrysalids?


  1. This is a great activity to do with kids. They will learn something about metamorphosis, and they'll learn even more about the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

  2. We've been having fun with it. You captured one of my goals perfectly... maintaining that sense of wonder about the natural world. Just last night we added another creature to our butterfly house- a woolly bear caterpillar. I hope to share details about this new investigation, soon.