scardosi
Saturday 17th , 2012
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Kidspace’s annual caterpillar adoption is underway!  Caterpillars may be the easiest pet your kids will ever want to take home.  Take advantage of this magical program to teach children about the natural world and observe the stages of metamorphosis.259

Stage 1: Egg

 

Stage 2: Caterpillar/Larvae

 

Stage 3: Chrysalis/Pupa

 

Stage 4: Butterfly

 

 

What to expect?

During your caterpillar’s life, it will more than quadruple in size and explore its habitat.  In their cups of food, which is a combination of mallow plant and protein nutrients suitable for your little critter, they will eat and eat while growing larger and larger.  Caterpillars are known as “eating machines” which allows them to quickly grow and molt several times in just 7 to 10 days.  You will also begin to see its colors and features change.  The amount of food in your cup is all they need until they form a chrysalis.  When your caterpillar is ready it will crawl to the top of its cup or habitat to form a chrysalis.

 

Defenses?

Your caterpillar will not bite you, even if it crawls on your finger, but you may see other defense mechanisms.  It may curl into a ball when it feels vibrations or when the cup is shaken.  Caterpillars can stay still for a very long time if they think they are in danger.

In the wild, most caterpillars have cryptic coloring in order to hide from predators.  This is commonly known as camouflage.  What do you think your Painted Lady Caterpillar would blend in with to hide in your backyard?  What predators do you think they would need to hide from?

As a chrysalis, it will shake to shoo away predators or any vibrations it feels.

260 As a butterfly, Painted Ladies can also blend into their environments and utilize the “eyespots” on their wings to trick predators into thinking they are other animals, such as owls.  This is called mimicry.  Can you think of other insects or animals that might use this method of defense?

 

Becoming a Butterfly?

Butterflies emerge from a chrysalis and moths emerge from a cocoon.  The Painted Lady Butterfly is one of the most widespread of all butterfly species, but they prefer warmer climates.  Just as Monarchs, they will sometimes migrate south to find the warm weather.

 

Let your butterfly stretch and dry its wings after it emerges.  When it breaks out of the chrysalis, excess pigment from forming its wings may also be released into the habitat in the color of red and orange. 

 

Feeding & Release?

It can be fed sugar water or cut-up orange slices.  It will start to flutter around its habitat when it is ready for the natural world.  Remember to release your butterfly in the warm sun of the afternoon, after birds have had their morning feeding.  Near gardens and bright flower bushes are the best spots for butterfly release.

Caterpillars and Butterflies are some of the most fascinating creatures that can help us learn about other life in the world.  What do these animals have in common and what defenses do they use?

 

Enjoy your caterpillar this season, for sale in the Busy Bee Learning Store while supplies last, and remember to join Kidspace’s Grand Butterfly Release on April 28 & 29.