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Bringing Home the Science: Raising Butterflies

The butterfly lifecycle enters the curriculum in second grade in our state, so it seemed like the perfect year to raise butterflies. Just like the kids, I’ve never seen the process in action before. I’ve enjoyed hearing everything my second grader has learned about butterflies as the cycle progresses. It’s been an exciting few weeks around here!

Thankfully, there’s not much to raising them.

I picked up a butterfly habitat, which is essentially a collapsable laundry basket with six sides and a zipper, and then – of course – the caterpillars. There are tons of options for habitats and caterpillars just on Amazon. Mr. Eight Year Old was thrilled that we ordered five caterpillars but seven arrived.

Thankfully, our caterpillars came in a contained habitat with food. We could watch them grow and then form a chrysalis. Once every caterpillar had its on chrysalis, my husband (who has the steadiest hand) moved them into the butterfly habitat. I placed a towel at the bottom of the habitat after reading that it will cushion the accidental fall of a chrysalis and increase the chance that the butterfly survives. It took about 7-10 days, but then our butterflies started to emerge.

We were lucky that all of our butterflies survived, though one does have a broken wing. They have their own food source (sugar water) in the habitat, but we gave them some orange slices as well.

I read the recommendation that caterpillars be purchased after the outdoor temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The butterflies can be released if the temperatures tend to remain over 50 degrees, so we ordered our caterpillars a bit early in the season as our nights can dip below 50. Luckily, butterflies can live their 2-4 week lifespan in the habitat. I’ll be watching the 10-day weather forecast this weekend to see when ours can be released.

So, overall, this has been a fun experience for the whole family. I definitely recommend it for those interested.

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