Raising butterflies

This was such a good bit of fun, I just have to share it here even though we did it a few months ago. The girls were given money for Christmas so we used it to buy an Insectlore Butterfly Garden. The netted butterfly enclosure was delivered with instructions and a voucher code to order the caterpillars.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis

Here are the caterpillars when they arrived. One hadn’t hatched yet. They grew scarily big rather quickly. I wish I’d taken a picture of the massive caterpillars. Definitely a real-life illustration of The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-2

Eventually, they crawled to the top of the cup and hung in “J” shapes, growing cocoons. I’ve made this image black and white to spare you the caterpillar poo.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-3

Giving all the caterpillars time to go into cocoons and for their cocoons to harden, we transferred the disc at the top of the cup to the butterfly garden, pinning it to the netting.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-4

It was hard to believe that something was actually going to happen to be honest. I was so paranoid that somehow it wouldn’t “work”! But then one morning, we came down and there was fully formed butterfly, drying its wings.

Talitha, then 3 going on 4, was absolutely mesmerised by the whole thing but so was I. How could our caterpillars have become something so different? It was like observing a miracle.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-10

We gave our butterflies fruit and sugar water to eat.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-11

The only thing I would have done differently is line the bottom of the enclosure with kitchen roll as the instructions suggested because the new butterflies expel a lot of red meconium and it’s sticky stuff.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-8
Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-9

We kept a magnifying glass next to the cup and the garden to observe the caterpillars/butterflies through the entire process. When they’d all emerged, Talitha decided to draw them. We also printed and laminated a life cycle poster from Twinkl to refer to while we talked about what was happening.

Finally, it was time to release our butterflies since I didn’t want to have to care for LOTS of new caterpillars.

Raising butterflies from eggs - observing metamorphosis-14

We’ll definitely do this again. We can keep the butterfly garden and keep ordering new cups of caterpillars or we might even just try bringing some in from the garden (along with whatever plant we find them on).

This post contains affiliate links.