Butterflies are free. Well, not quite all of them - not the five Painted Ladies that had just fluttered off into a soft summer morning. I bought them as a refill kit from Insect Lore. My sister gave me the original butterfly habitat as a birthday gift a few years ago. The butterflies arrived as caterpillars, or larvae, and they were indeed very hungry caterpillars. They munched their way around the clear cup that was their home. It came stocked with special food. All the supplies needed were packed in a brightly illustrated box. Insect Lore is a very interesting web site and it offers several different insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis.
As I’ve posted in previous blogs, I enjoy having little learning sessions with our grandson Teddy. We don’t delve deeply into actual-factuals, but talk in terms of "a few days" or "a long time" and "really big" and "teeny tiny." At two-and-a-half I realize much of what I say goes fluttering off into the blue just like our Painted Ladies, but he does retain quite a bit of what he hears.
The day the caterpillars came by mail . . . wait . . . I have to stop here a moment and explain something. Instead of caterpillars, I want to call them “callapiggers” and “buggyworms,” both terms from “a long time ago.” Our niece Jackie introduced us to “callapiggers” when she was little, and Teddy’s mother, our daughter Ellen, coined “buggyworms.” The names stuck, leading even the adults in our family to stick happily with the mangled versions. And now I have to force myself not to call caterpillars callapiggers when conversing with adults.
Teddy stopped in frequently to check on the transformation taking place in the little cup. As soon as he hit the door, before I was able to finish asking if he wanted to go up to my office to check on the caterpillars, he had scrambled halfway up the stairs. First we talked about how fast they were growing and how much they were eating. The “don’t touch” stage that followed was when the caterpillars attached themselves to the lid of the cup and while their chrysalides formed and hardened. At the right time we very carefully moved the chrysalides to the habitat (made very much like those pop-up hampers) and waited a little more. And miraculously, last Friday, and right on time according to our instruction booklet, the butterflies began to emerge. Pop is a more descriptive term, because as soon as I noticed one had left its chrysalis, another made its entrance. I sent a hurried text to Ellen that the butterflies were rapidly exiting their chrysalides. She arrived with Teddy shortly after and we spent quite a while just watching the young butterflies rest and dry their wings. Then we read Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar together. It was getting very close to bedtime by then, so we had to beg Mom to let us watch the animated version on Netflix.
We put fresh flowers and nectar into the tent as directed, but the butterflies didn’t appear too interested in snacking. The sooner they were released into their natural habitat the better it would be. We set Sunday as Freedom Day.
Teddy hurtled up the stairs while I brought up the rear. Together we gently carried the butterfly habitat downstairs. The cottage garden by the front door is planted with pollinator favorites like black-eyed Susans, anise hyssop, coneflower and lantana, so it was the perfect location for the sendoff. Teddy was really into what was happening as he waited patiently for the butterflies to take wing. He understood that as pretty as they were and how temptingly close we were to them, we couldn’t touch them without causing them harm.
We are going to fit in a visit to the Butterfly House located in Whitehouse soon. I don’t know how much Teddy takes away from our little nature studies, but it doesn’t matter. What is important is that we spend time together, read together and explore our world together. I put aside my “things to do” list and look at everyday things with renewed appreciation. Even callapiggers.
Receive instant email notification whenever I post something - a blog post, a recipe, or a project - simply by signing up. Click the button at the bottom of this post so you don't miss a thing!