Well, as I mentioned in my last post, the butterflies have emerged from their chrysalis.  We have been raising caterpillars that came with a butterfly raising kit which was a Christmas gift for my daughter.  You can read about the caterpillars growth here and their moving day here once they formed their chrysalis.

The caterpillars formed their chrysalis last Tuesday and we put them inside of their butterfly enclosure.  We hung the enclosure on a tree in the back garden.  I did have to bring it inside for a couple of nights when the temperatures dipped below 55 degrees.  

Well, Saturday morning dawned and it was a beautiful day.  I was happy because I got to sleep in a little bit.  As soon as I woke up, I went to take the butterfly enclosure back outside when I noticed 3 butterflies fluttering about inside of the cage.  

To say that I was EXCITED is an understatement!  I ran to get my kids to show them.  **The reason you don’t see me in any of the photos is because I still had my pajamas on 😉

We just sat there watching them and wondering when the others would emerge.  We didn’t have to wait long….
You could see the chrysalis begin to wiggle a bit and then the end would bulge out and the butterfly would emerge very quickly….seriously it took about 10 seconds.  The wings were wrinkled at first and it took about a half hour for them to fold out completely.  **The red stain is baby butterfly excrement (poop).
Then a minute later, another one began to emerge….
We were beside ourselves with excitement, especially the kids.  
I decided to get some pictures close up and opened up the enclosure so that I could fit my camera lens inside.  I just prayed that I did not have any butterflies relieve themselves on the lens (my husband would not be too happy about that – it is his camera).
The butterflies are called “Painted Lady” and they emerged within a 3 hour period, except for one.
We prepared food for the butterflies as directed by the manufacturers of the butterfly kit.  It was a mixture of sugar and water.  An eye-dropper was included for easy application.
Applying the sugar water to flowers was recommended, so I used Lantana, which is very popular with butterflies.
Almost right away, some butterflies made their way to the flowers and began to taste the sugar water.
Their tongues are amazing.  They actually work like a straw.  You can see the black tongue above and it actually curls up.  
The butterflies only live for 10 days.  So, our plan is to observe them for 3 days and then let them go so that they can pollinate flowers and reproduce.

Who knew that butterflies could be so interesting?
**Our last installment will be in a couple of days when we release the butterflies out into the wild.  There is also a story about the 10th butterfly who had to be helped out of his damaged chrysalis.
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

24 replies
  1. fairegarden
    fairegarden says:

    The looks on the faces of your children says it all, Noelle! What a science lesson for them. Seeing the butterfly feeding on the nectar laden flower that you are holding is the epitome of being one with nature. Kudos! 🙂
    Frances

    Reply
  2. Becca's Dirt
    Becca's Dirt says:

    What excitement. I can imagine how excited you were. Stunning photos of them opening up. Didn't know the wings would be wrinkled. My grandkids would love this.

    Reply
  3. Darla
    Darla says:

    Our family enjoys raising butterflies too. How is your milkweed doing? We raised caterpillars from eggs and then Monarchs from the Chrysalis..fun, fun, fun!

    Reply
  4. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    Such fun! I remember when I was young I found a chrysalis in our garden. I so wanted to see it hatch, so I tucked it in a shoe box with a little tissue, and set it outside in our coal shed. Every morning I'd check, and then one morning there was a little butterfly with wrinkly wings perched on the edge of the box. I had to go to school, and was so sad when I got home that the little butterfly had flown away, and I'd missed it!

    Reply
  5. Ami
    Ami says:

    Noelle: This is such a great gift and wonderful experience for the kids and kids-in-heart! I need to see if I can get some for my kids this Christmas 🙂 Great post and your photos are beautiful!

    Reply
  6. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    How exciting this was to watch via your pictures, I can only imagine what it was like in person. What a wonderful experience for you and your children.

    FlowerLady

    Reply
  7. Msrobin
    Msrobin says:

    I'm excited to see that the butterfly experimented turned out so well. I'll be ordering my caterpillars when I return from vacation, then you'll certainly see the same process repeated on my blog!

    Reply
  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    I would be excited watching this miracle of nature too Noelle! Fantastic experience to give your kids (and you!) Painted ladies are so pretty ~ I hope they show up here soon.
    Looking forward to the "release" post.

    Reply
  9. camissonia
    camissonia says:

    Very cool, Noelle, and such a great experience for your kids! Painted Ladies are one of my fav butterflies, as they consistently migrate through our area in the summer months.

    Reply
  10. Stone Art
    Stone Art says:

    That’s great, must be lovely to be able to observe them in that way. It’s strange we don’t seem to get as many butterflies over here in Ireland as we use to, don’t know if it has to do with the changing climates or if they are just hiding on me!

    Reply

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