Observing the Butterfly Life Cycle

Preschoolers throughout LVCC have become quite the experts on the life-cycle of the painted lady butterfly. Our young entomologists received a jar of caterpillars in each preschool and Pre-K Counts classroom a few weeks ago. We watched the caterpillars' transition as they grew.

Egg (3-5 days old)
Prior to our receiving this fun nature experiment, the caterpillars started their life cycle as small eggs, the size of a pin head. Once the incubation of the eggs completed, a painted lady caterpillar, or larva, emerged.

Larva (5-10 days old)
Like all babies, the caterpillars were very hungry. They ate constantly, gnawing away at leaves with their strong jaws. The more the caterpillars ate, the more they grew. They got so big that they grew right out of their skins - four times! 
Larva/caterpillar stage

Pupa/chrysalis stage
Chrysalis (7-10 days old)
The caterpillars slowly made their way up to the top of the jar, where we then gave the caterpillars a bigger home inside a mesh butterfly observation house. Our teacher hung the house from the ceiling so we could watch the caterpillars begin their metamorphosis and pupate. The caterpillars spun a silk string and attached themselves, upside-down, to the top of the house. After a few days, we couldn't recognize the caterpillar anymore because its skin changed again, becoming a chrysalis. Our teacher told the class that the caterpillar became completely liquid inside this chrysalis. Soon after the chrysalis became transparent, a butterfly emerged.

Adult (2-3 weeks)
The butterfly fought its way out of the casing and sat on our teacher's hand to rest. Once it had energy again, it unfolded its crumpled wings to dry. We all took turns looking at the butterfly. Its wings were too delicate to touch. After a few hours, the painted lady butterfly began to fly.   
Newly hatched adult 

No comments: