Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Catapillars, Butterflies and the Cycle of Life

Painted Lady Caterpillars
A couple of weeks ago in the HSV Garden Challenge Linkup #3, I shared that we were studying life cycles and were observing 5 Painted Lady caterpillars in hopes of watching their transformation into butterflies.

Last Monday we returned from the long weekend to find two of the five already in chrysalises.   Over the next couple of days they all formed cocoons.  (Unfortunately I do not have pictures of this stage because I got distracted by our Memorial Day storm and its resulting cleanup.) The kids have been fascinated with the process and we have kept the caterpillars and then chyrslises in their room so they can keep an eye on them.
Our first Painted Lady to emerge (bottom) was 'sick'.

Last night as we were getting ready for bed, my eldest came running out of the room all excited because he could see wings!  Sure enough, the first butterfly had emerged.  It's wings were twisted and funny looking but we went to bed knowing they needed time to straighten out and harden.  This morning they were still not straight and it was time for me to do some research.  We found out that it only takes 1 - 2 hrs for the wings to harden and so our butterfly is never going to have healthy wings and be able to survive.  Tortuous news to my eldest.  :(  About 5 minutes and some Mom comforting later we went back to look at our sick butterfly only to find 2 butteries! 
A 10-15 minute old healthy Painted Lady butterfly!

Joy and sorrow intermingled, but it was a good lesson on the full cycle of life and that in nature those who are sick often do not survive.  It is a hard lesson to learn but I was glad to be there to comfort and that God blessed us with the perfectly timed arrival of the second healthy butterfly to lighten the sorrow.  (As I wrote this post a 3rd butterfly emerged.  What an exciting day!

I hope next week that we will be able to report the release of 4 healthy butterflies and to spend some time looking at what to plant in our yards to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Happy Gardening (and Learning). :}

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