In our 1st grade class, we raise Monarch Butterflies every spring. It is an awesome experience and I am amazed at the process. Our kits were like this, with a milkweed plant for the caterpillar to eat.
This year, I thought it would be fun to raise butterflies at home and let the boys experience their life cycle. So, I hopped online and purchased this Live Butterfly Garden from Amazon. I am a little disappointed in the kit. It is Painted Lady Butterflies, but I didn’t think that’d make that much of a difference. However, the larvae come in a little clear cup with holes in it and artificial food and it tells you not to take them out until they form their chrysalis. At school, our caterpillars roamed the pop-up cage freely and formed their chrysalis on the top or on the milkweed plant.
I did open my little cup of caterpillars and let them crawl around their cage. (It said not to open it in case you introduce bacteria. Really? Bacteria? These little insects that live OUTSIDE are worried about bacteria??)
**Sidenote… I did find online that Painted Ladies eat a common plant called Cheeseweed, which I’m pretty sure I’ve seen out back in our wooded area. I am going to try to feed them the Cheeseweed.
Anyhow… I did a little research on Monarchs and, knowing they eat milkweed I thought… I should try growing some milkweed in the yard and maybe we’ll find some Monarch larvae. Silly me… I called the local nursery to see if I could buy milkweed and they probably thought I was crazy… they told me “No, we don’t sell it… but I’m sure you could go out into any field and dig it up yourself for free.” Duh.
So, Porter and I hopped in the van, shovel and bucket in tow, and drove a few miles and lo and behold… MILKWEED! All along the side of the road. Duh!
We planted it in our yard and hopefully we’ll find some larvae. If not, I might purchase the larvae online and just bring leaves in for the caterpillars to eat.
Porter is really excited about this project. He loves watching his Painted Lady caterpillars and we’re just waiting waiting for them to form their chrysalis’.