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There is just something about the miraculous transformation that a caterpillar undergoes resulting into a beautiful creature.  I think that is what continue to amaze us, even as adults.  

 Painted Lady
Last spring, my kids and I raised butterflies ourselves using a kit that I had found at Costco.  
 My daughter, Gracie, getting ready to let her butterflies free.
It was so much fun seeing them transform before our eyes and then getting ready to let them go.
It is hard for me to think of them as insects…..
I don’t particularly enjoy holding caterpillars in my hand, but I find intense enjoyment when a butterfly alights on my hand.
It is sometimes hard for me to get a good picture of a butterfly…..
Swallowtail feeding upon Lantana.
Believe me, I have tried, but they usually turn out blurry, like the one above.
Butterflies do not seem to understand that they need to sit still so that I can get the ‘perfect’ shot with my camera 😉
Thankfully, there are always butterfly pavilions at our local botanic garden where the butterflies are content to stay still so that I can take their picture…..
How about you?  
Have you had luck taking pictures of butterflies? 

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Please come and see my latest Birds & Blooms post


Beautiful Native Shrub With a Floral Surprise

You know how our kids are often excited to leave home and go out on their own?  Well, that is what thought came to my mind as it was time for us to let our butterflies out into the big world.

We have been raising butterflies from a kit that came with a coupon to receive caterpillars by mail, a butterfly enclosure and instructions.  Each step has been very interesting and informative, not only for our kids, but for me as well.  I have posted about each phase and you can read about the caterpillar stage, the chrysalis stage and the emerging from the chrysalis.

It was now time for them to go and explore the world for themselves.  The kids were excited to help let them out of their enclosure which except for the cups they were raised in caterpillars, it is the only home they have known.

My son was the first to put his hand inside and bring out a butterfly.  He was just so tickled that a butterfly was sitting on his hand.
Next, it was my daughter’s turn…
Now Gracie is normally a bit squeamish about bugs, but she was simply entranced by this butterfly.
She carefully put him on my Purple Lilac Vine.
It only paused a few seconds, before it flew away.

The makers of the butterfly kit highly recommend releasing the butterflies into the wild as they are beneficial to the environment.  They are important pollinators and even though the caterpillars were raised in a sterile environment, they know what to do as soon as they are released as adult butterflies.
My kids had such a great time holding the butterflies before they flew off.  **As you can see, the hand holding this butterfly is quite dirty and obviously belongs to my only son.  I have raised 4 daughters and their hands never seemed to get as dirty as his does 😉
This one made straight for my flowering Palo Verde tree…
I mentioned in my last post that we did have a surprise occurrence while raising butterflies.  One of the chrysalis had a split down the side and the butterfly in it emerged a day later then the others.  It could not completely get out of the chrysalis – it was stuck on it’s lower end.  It was also obvious that the wings were deformed.  My husband helped to take off as much of the chrysalis he could from the back end of the butterfly, but part of it would not come off.
You can see part of the chrysalis still attached to the end and the wings were not completely formed.  However, he was able to fly a little.  And so we put him on my Lantana shrub, where he would not have to fly much and could enjoy all of the flowers he could.
You can see his tongue sipping the nectar out of the Lantana flowers.
I must confess that this Butterfly Kit was a spontaneous purchase.  We saw it our local warehouse store and bought it for my daughter.  I have been so pleased at this entire experience.  
My kids and I have learned so much and I highly recommend trying this.  You can purchase your own kit at www.insectlore.com  They even have other kits available where you can raise ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, ants and worms.  Now, I just need to decide what we will raise next.
Thank you for going on this journey with me and for leaving your wonderful comments.

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.