The title of this post does not indicate that a deeply meaningful treatise on change will follow. It means that we actually grew some butterflies. In our apartment. In a cup. No kidding.
Apparently Jr's preschool recently raised three pavilions of butterflies, and during this time some lovely friends gave the young man a Butterfly Garden of his own. Once we were confident that the weather was suitable for releasing butterflies outside, we followed the instructions in the package to order our larvae online. Three days later, the postman rang our doorbell with a little box and said curiously, "Um, this parcel says 'Live Caterpillars.' I didn't want to leave it in your mailbox."
The brilliant thing about Insect Lore's set up is that there's very little one has to do (and so, very few ways to mess it up). The caterpillar larvae live in a little cup that has air holes and a quarter-inch of food at the bottom. When they arrived, they were about this long: ----.
Within two days, they looked like this (------------).
Within seven days, they looked like this:
And then three of them climbed to the top of the cup, attached themselves to the disk of paper and turned into chrysalises. We were a little worried about the remaining two caterpillars, but the next day they followed suit. The little bit of caterpillar remaining outside each chrysalid turned out not to be their disembodied heads, as I feared, but rather just their shed skin.
I carefully removed the paper from the cup and transferred it to the mesh house. For several days we waited. And then we went away for the weekend, leaving the chrysalids in the capable hands of Bald and Effective, who must have sung little songs of encouragement to them, for when we returned, three Painted Lady butterflies were happily sucking on orange slices and flying around the mesh house.
By the next morning, all five butterflies had emerged. We observed them for a couple of days, recorded the finer points in Apparently Jr's field notebook and fed them sugar water and orange slices. And then last night we walked them to a nearby park and opened up the house to set them free. Much like at preschool, the butterflies were not terribly interested in leaving. But we coaxed them out and placed the most reluctant ones on a tree, and after considering the merits of our leafy neighborhood, each eventually flew away.