Remember my little friend, Buddy, the monarch caterpillar? He emerged from his chrysalis!
I found him on a walk a couple of weeks ago on a milkweed patch in the path of the country mower. So I brought him home and set up our butterfly house, and we’ve been obsessively watching him ever since.
He formed a chrysalis a week and a half ago, we’ve been watching closely for days, awaiting his emergence.
Lupine noticed on Wednesday morning that the wings could be clearly seen, folded tightly behind the transparent membrane. We marveled at him for a long while, then stepped outside for only a moment. When we returned, we found him fully emerged!
Needless to say, we were awestruck.
We watched as he pumped and opened his wings, then rested and dried them, while hanging suspended from the ceiling of the cage.
Finally, it was time to set him free!
My mom was visiting, so she gathered with the four of us to witness his maiden flight.
(Last photo courtesy of Lupine.)
I refer to Buddy as “he”, because a friend taught us how to determine gender on a monarch! See those two black spots above on the lower wing in the photo above? And the delicate (thin) black lines throughout? That told us that he was a male, and not a female as we had been guessing all along.
So “she” became “he” in an instant, just after emergence.
The things we learn, side-by-side with out kids! Next up we’re raising Luna moths. A friend gifted us a few luna babies that we’re raising with great excitement. Much to our delight, these amazing chrysalises jiggle and vibrate when you set them down.
They. Are. Incredible.
And a tiny bit creepy.
I shared a video on my Instagram highlights if you want to watch!
And after that? We have a Polyphemus colony that’s happily munching on oak leaves in our kitchen. Another gift; same friend. This bundle of big fat adorable caterpillars will turn into these beauties.
Needless to say, I’m geeking out on this as much (if not more) than my kids.
Sometimes people ask us when we have our last day of school; do we take the summer off from homeschooling?
Not really. I mean how could we? Life is learning, and our curiosity just won’t quit.
So we don’t have a “first day” or a “last day” of school–not this year, and not ever. Because honestly, we couldn’t stop learning if we tried. And why would we ever want to, with this magic in our kitchen?
A few postscripts (and a couple of handy afflinks) follow:
1. We were dumbstruck by this podcast and, weeks later, still talk about what we learned from it often. I hope you enjoy!
2. The zippered butterfly tent that we’re using in the photos above we picked up a few years ago. It was a part of this butterfly kit that we really bought just for the house. (Though raising the butterflies that came with it were fun, too.) A friend had one and her butterflies seemed to do so much better than ours did when raised in a makeshift house or gallon jars. Maybe it’s just that I fret about them injuring themselves less in this soft-side tent.
3. And if you’re new to lepadoptera or just looking for a good field guide to caterpillars, this one is a good place to start.