We’ve been having a lot of fun over the last couple of weeks at PTS with the Live Butterfly Garden. Jennie kindly ordered caterpillars and a small enclosure to keep them save from Insect Lore.
The caterpillars arrive with their own food supply in their pot, all you need to do is watch them eat and grow. When the caterpillars arrived they are around 2cm long and very small and thin. In just a few days they become much bigger after eating their food! Watching them grow before our eyes was fascinating.
Once the caterpillars grow big enough they each turned into a chrysalis, hanging from the top of the pot. At this stage you transfer the chrysalides to the provided habitat, where they can hatch into butterflies. You need to make sure that the chrysalides are fully hardened and be extra careful when doing this.
Once they are safely in the provided habitat it’s a waiting game. Each day we all became completely obsessed with checking on the growth of the butterflies.
The butterflies take 7-14 days to hatch, ours took about 7 days until they began to emerge from their crystallising. We managed to witness the butterflies emerging from their chrysalis (mainly because we couldn’t keep our eyes off them). It was amazing to watch and happened so much quicker than expected.
Once your butterflies have emerged and their wings have hardened you can decorate their habitat with twigs, leaves and flowers, and feed them with nectar (sugar water) or pieces of fruit. We put in some grapes and oranges to help them feed and some twing and flowers to make them feel at home.
After a few days we released the butterflies into the big wide world!
Growing your own butterflies is a lovely activity for children to enjoy in the summer holidays or as a lesson plan ready for the new school year.
-You could make your own butterfly journals and observe the Life Cycle of a Butterfly, students observe one organism over time and compare its early development (caterpillar) to its later development (butterfly). A necessary observation skill in science is to compare and contrast. Students will be able to compare actual characteristics of a butterfly with a fictional representation of a butterfly.
-You could read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the class. As soon as the story is finished, look back through the book and ask children to think about how the caterpillar changes in the story.
– Pupils could observe the development of a butterfly first-hand this way. Students can make daily observations of the development of the butterflies in their journal, paying careful attention to the butterfly’s size, colour, shape, activity and diet.
This is an excellent project that is perfect for both in the classroom and at home.