Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the Midst of Royalty

Every year, I bring in caterpillars into my classroom to raise into butterflies. This year we had four gulf fritillaries and our last one was a monarch. After observing the former making their chrysalises that are dull brown and irregularly shaped, the bright green one with pure gold spots that the monarch made was a surprise for the children.

I did not bring my camera to school until it had already shown signs that the metamorphosis was almost complete. The bright green shell begins to dull and then lose its color and turn transparent. You can begin to see the pattern of the wings within. You can still see the gold spots, though.


The following day, when we came in, the chrysalis had lost all of its green. Around 10 o'clock that morning, one of the children let out a squeal that they had discovered that the butterfly had emerged.


It clung to the chrysalis for hours. Initially, it is so wrinkled from its tight little former home, that it is a little alarming.

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Gradually, it will begin to pump blood into its wings and they will straighten out.




The next morning, we released it in our garden outside our room. It took off before I had a chance to click one more shot.

It needs to be on its way, after all, for the fall migration is underway and it is a long flight to Mexico where they gather for the winter.


Kimberlee said...

I'm SO impressed!!!

We raised Monarchs when I taught Kindergarten down in New Orleans. I wish I'd had the presence of mind (and a decent camera) to take photos of the process and the kids' reaction to the process.

Butterflies are another species that the children here don't have much experience with. I'm not sure if it would be cruel or not to try raising some here since it would mean sure and possibly immediate death for the butterflies once released. I wonder how long they'd live if not released...any thoughts???

S N B said...

Monarchs can live as adults from just 2 weeks to as long as 9 months, depending largely on when they are hatched. Are moths a better option there?
I'm sure you do what I would consider awesome things with your kids, they are just different due to geography and culture.
Would your kids be interested in email penpals who live in the opposite corner of the country?