August 24, 2010
Studying caterpillars and butterflies is part of our summer science. A beautiful part of summer science. (You may have noticed monarch photos showing up in posts this month).
Each summer for the past few years the kids, predominantly Laurent, have collected and identified caterpillars. The kids keep the larvae in jars, determine their diet and feed them until they develop into a chrysalis or cocoon (chrysalis for butterfly, cocoon for moth). Alternately, the kids will keep a critter for a short time, research its natural habitat and observe its behavior then return it to our backyard.
We have had the most success with studying monarch caterpillars and keeping them till they emerge as beautiful butterflies. Two years ago Laurent wrote How to Keep Monarch Caterpillars and How to Feed Them. That same year I wrote Raising Monarchs with photos of the complete life cycle, minus the egg stage which is minute and could not be photographed with my camera.
Each summer we are inspired by these beautiful creatures and their marvelous transformation, not to mention epic migration.
If you'd like to read more about these amazing insects and butterflies/caterpillars in general we recommend the following books:
Now if you'll indulge me a bit here's some photos from this month of monarchs flitting through our backyard, doing what appears to be a dance. Perhaps mating?
Some days there have been three at a time sucking nectar from the butterfly bush (Buddleia), a plant I highly recommend for it's intoxicating fragrance that attracts beautiful butterflies.
I've taken hundreds of photos trying to get a clear, crisp flight shot but I think these soft movements are beautiful and tell the story just as well.
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