I can’t tell you the number of caterpillars I caught as a child, and held hostage in a glass jar, holes poked through the canning lid for air, in hopes of raising my own butterfly. These experiments with nature proved largely futile. Generally the caterpillar would appear to cocoon, never to emerge. Once, I mysteriously ended up with a jar full of black flies which, as you can imagine, was far from rewarding.
So when I discovered, on a recent visit to the Vernon Teach and Learn shop in Vernon, that we could actually buy caterpillars about to cocoon, along with a special, netted container, food and instructions on how to properly tend them, I couldn’t resist. We came home with three.
The kids were ecstatic. Their OWN butterflies, they thought, as though we would actually keep them for pets.
We kept our caterpillars for several days, watching with anticipation as they moved around their enclosure, munching their food, spinning webs and carefully avoiding the useful twig we included to give them something to hang on.
A few days after they spun themselves into cocoons, preferring to hang from the netted enclosure than the obvious twig, we forgot about them.
And then, just the other day, our cat (who was the most fascinated of all of us) let us know that there was some activity going on in Camp Butterfly.
They had emerged – three painted ladies. New, beautiful and mysterious. The kids were overjoyed. I, finally successful in this endeavour, was elated. The cat was a little bit too intent for my liking.
According to instruction, we kept them in their enclosure for a few more days, on a diet of sugar water and watermelon.
They were not shy. Whenever anyone opened the top of their enclosure to try and take a picture, one or the other of them would climb stealthily up to the opening for a little action.
After three days, we had a little send-off party, releasing them out into the wilds, one by one. I hope they’re doing well…
Bye bye, butterfly!