• Just Okay Mom

Raising Butterflies

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

This is a great way to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly with your little one. In this post, I'll explain which kit we used and some tips and tricks for making the most of your butterfly raising experience. This was very low-maintenance and so much easier than expected.  

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We used this kit from Insect Lore. I had no idea that you could order live caterpillars directly from Amazon! These caterpillars came quickly and arrived in perfect condition. Every single one survived all the way to the butterfly stage!

If you're homeschooling, these butterfly life cycle figurines are another fun resource!

Tip #1: Do not be alarmed if the caterpillars appear to be dead upon arrival. Our caterpillars were completely inactive for about 48 hours. Please do not throw them away! On the second night, they began moving (slowly), and then rapidly doubled in size within days. The photo below shows what they looked like after several days.

As the caterpillars grow, they will shed their skin several times, which is -- well -- pretty creepy, but my kid thought it was cool. 

Tip #2: Do NOT move the cups once the caterpillars pupate (become chrysalises). My son got VERY excited when he saw that the caterpillars had moved to the lid of the cup and transformed. So, naturally, he came sprinting over to me with one of the cups in his hand. Sure enough, a few chrysalids fell off the lid. I panicked -- I thought we had surely killed them. Luckily, it turned out to be just fine. I moved them to a paper towel and placed them inside the habitat. All of the butterflies emerged normally -- phew!

Tip #3: Watch closely for color changes during the chrysalis stage so you can predict when the butterfly will emerge. After about 7 days the chrysalis will darken. Before long, the chrysalis will become transparent, and if you look closely you may even see some of the pattern on the butterfly inside. At this point, you should see your butterfly emerge in about one full day. The photo below is an example of what they will look like right before they emerge.  I was actually able to get a pretty cool close up video of this butterfly emerging!

TIP #4: Put a paper towel under the butterfly habitat before the butterflies emerge. As the butterflies emerge, they will expel a red liquid called meconium. This is completely normal, but it does occur in larger quantities than you would imagine. I did not put a paper towel under the habitat, and there was a ton of red liquid underneath when I finally moved the habitat outside to free the butterflies. It cleaned up easily, but I imagine it could pose a problem on white or light colored furniture.

Tip #5: Let a few butterflies go the day they emerge. If you release a butterfly the day it emerges, it will be more likely to hang around and land on your fingers! If you wait too long they will be eager to fly off.

Enjoy your butterflies!

I hope this post was helpful for some new butterfly enthusiasts. We've ordered these several times and enjoyed the magic over and over. Check out these great books to go along with your butterfly lesson!

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