I have been busy lately helping with creating a butterfly garden for a golf course community.

Actually, I had originally designed and planted this large garden over 10 years ago as a hummingbird garden (during my time there as a horticulturist).  It turned out great and was one of my favorite projects.

I was thrilled to be asked to create a new design for this area so that it would attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.

I can’t wait to share the before and after photos with you in a few days.

One of the favorite things the kids and I did was to raise butterflies together. 

I’m not sure what was the most exciting part…..

– Seeing the caterpillars create their chrysalis
– Seeing them emerge
– Releasing them into our garden.

American Beauty Butterfly

Anyone can do it and kits are available online.

I blogged about our experience and you can read them here….

“Surprise For My Daughter”

“Moving Day for Caterpillars”

“Beauty Emerges”

“Ready to Fly Away”


On a personal note….life is slowly getting back to normal since our home flooded.

We got new carpeting today, courtesy of our homeowner’s insurance.  

I just need to move everything back inside 😉

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  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.

I am sure that many of you have been on the edge of your seats for the next installment of my youngest daughter’s butterfly raising adventures 😉  In case you missed it, you can read the first installment here.

We have been waiting for the caterpillars to form their chrysalis so that we could take them out of their containers and transfer them to their new butterfly enclosure.  

The caterpillars attached themselves to the underside of the lids and formed a chrysalis.  And so, the next step was to carefully take the lids off and take the caterpillars (chrysalis) out. 

To be honest, I was a little nervous about this part.  I didn’t want to accidentally dislodge any of the chrysalis from the undersides of the container lids.


At this point, one of the caterpillars within the chrysalis began wiggling madly about.  Now, I usually pride myself on not being squeamish around bugs, but the wiggling kind of grossed me out a bit.


The next step was to pin the lids to the lower sides of the butterfly enclosure.  

*You may notice that the enclosure comes with its own beautiful silk flowers, something that I try to stay from….I like real flowers best 😉

The last step was to hang the butterfly enclosure outdoors and wait for the new butterflies to emerge in a few days.  
We can hardly wait….

My youngest daughter received something very interesting in the mail earlier this week and she wanted me to share it with you.

Can you tell what it is?  You may have to enlarge the photo.
Okay, I admit that they look a little gross.  There are 5 caterpillars in each container.  
Why get caterpillars in the mail you may ask?
Well, my daughter received the following kit for Christmas….
I found this butterfly kit at Costco for about $15 and just had to buy it for her.  She has been waiting patiently until spring temperatures arrived so that she could start raising her own butterflies.
There is a coupon inside that you send in to receive 10 caterpillars in the mail to get started.  She was so excited to open the box when it arrived in the mail.  

According to the directions, the caterpillars eat the food on the bottom of the container and grow big, VERY quickly.

In just two days, they were larger (compare with first photo above).
We keep the caterpillars indoors and the first thing every morning, the kids have to check to see how much bigger they have become.  

Yesterday, some of them were already hanging from the underside of the lid and this morning they all were.  This means that they are ready to form their chrysalis.

Once they have all formed their chrysalis, we can then transfer the lids to the butterfly habitat.  It should be a couple of days before we do this.
My kids are not the only ones interested in the caterpillars… is our cat.  We did have a little incident when the cat knocked one of the containers to the floor but, all the caterpillars survived.

We will keep you updated….hopefully we will be able to move them to their new enclosure in a couple of days.

Have a great weekend!
We are off to our son-in-law’s birthday party 🙂