Day 23 Thursday 2nd July
Unfortunately due to new imposed lock down procedures put in place in Leicester, our butterflies have had to move to temporary home with one of our Bumblebee nursery staff, who has promised to look after them before releasing them into her garden.
This has always been a very special part of the process and very much enjoyed by all the children who have the opportunity to hold the butterflies before they fly off to new and exciting adventures.
Wednesday 1st July
Today has been a very special day as the last two chrysalids have emerged.
When we arrived today the Chrysalids had darkened in colour and we could see clearly the outlines of their wings and bodies inside.
The magical birth of the butterfly happens surprisingly quickly. When a butterfly is ready to emerge, it takes in air through tiny spiracles (tiny holes) in the chrysalis. This added intake of air pressure helps the butterfly split the chrysalis open.
Day 22 Wednesday 1st July
The butterfly climbed out of the split chrysalids with soft crumpled wings before positioning itself, head upwards in a vertical position. The butterfly will sway from side to side forcing blood into its wings in order to expand them to their full size.
This morning when we arrived at nursery everything was quiet and there seemed no changes to the chrysalids, although if you looked carefully you could see the faint colour of orange through the cocoon.
Just as we thought nothing was happening to our excitement two butterflies started to emerge and make their way to the edges of the habitat where they sat carefully as their wings continued to unfurl and straighten.
We had added a small dish of sugared water for them to drink at the bottom and hopefully they will start to feed over the next few hours.
It has now been three days since our caterpillars turned into chrysalids and we have carefully opened the lid of the cup.
Before we moved the chrysalids to their butterfly garden habitat we removed any silk that encircled them with a cotton bud, to stop them becoming entangled when they emerge.
When all the material was removed we placed the lid into the slot on our Chrysalis station and transferred them to the habitat. We then carefully placed the fallen chrysalids onto a paper towel on the floor of the habitat.
In the past couple of days the last two caterpillars have transformed into chrsalids and are hanging down, suspended by the thin silk threads they have spun. For 7 to 14 days they may look like they are resting peacefully, but an amazing transformation is taking place inside.
Over the weekend we have had lots of activity with our caterpillars, two have already turned into chrysalids and another is ready and just starting to shed its exoskeleton for the last time and start to pupate into a chrysalid. Within minutes you can see the chrysalid start to form.
Almost at the same time another caterpillar moves itself into position on the underside of the lid and attaching itself by a thin silk thread hangs upside down in a ‘J’ shape. It won’t be long before this changes into a chrysalid.
Sometimes like in the first picture the caterpillar or chrysalid falls to the bottom of the cup before it has fully hardened, but do not worry, when it has completely hardened (after 2 – 3 days) we can carefully move it onto a paper towel and place it near to the edge of the butterfly habitat.
It has only been 4 days since my last post and the caterpillars have grown and become fatter, they are already moving towards the top of the cup ready to get in position to change into chrysalids.
My goodness how the caterpillars have grown over the weekend and some are now at least 2.5 cms long. Tiny strands of silk webbing are forming around the edges of the cup and in nature it is this webbing that protects the caterpillars from many dangers, they use the webbing to stick to leaves so the wind does not blow them off and also they use the silk to pull leaves around themselves to hide from predators that might like to eat them.
Inside we can also see small black balls at the bottom of the cup and these are actually little balls of cast-off caterpillar exoskeleton which they shed as they grow and they can do this as much as five times in total before they become chrysalids.
As a leaving present from one of our parents we have the opportunity of the donation of caterpillars. The fascinating larval phase of metamorphosis takes about 7 to 14 days when we can watch our caterpillars eat and grow to more than 10 times their original size! Before climbing to the top of the cup and hardening into chrysalides. When they emerge as butterflies the children can feed them sweetened water before letting them go into the environment.
By adding just a bit of nature into the children’s lives enhances feelings of contentment and belonging as well as a sense of wonder and excitement.
Visit our posts and news regularly to keep updated how they grow and change over the coming weeks.
More information is available at www.insectlore.co.uk
It’s that time again and this week we received our delivery of baby caterpillars. When these first arrive they are only 10 mm in length .
These always prove to be so fascinating for the children, who smile and giggle as they wiggle around the pot.
Only a few days later the caterpillars have already doubled in size and growing fatter each day.