Idea 50 of 60 Wild Ideas for the Summer holidays
I know it’s written really casually:
Hunt for a caterpillar….make a nest….wait for it to turn into a butterfly or moth
In my experience it’s never been that easy and I’m still curious how to hatch a butterfly.
How not to hatch a butterfly.
We’ve had plenty of fun finding caterpillars on numerous occasions and making nests for them, refreshing their leaves for dinner and avidly watching every day. Sure enough the head appears to detach itself from body and a wonderful structured cocoon type thing appears.
My knowledge of caterpillar transformation to butterfly/moth is little, I’ve always been curious to see what we might end up with.
Sometimes they were hardshell cocoons, other times they became netted webs in the corner of the box.
But usually this is where our luck ended.
step 1 – Take it on holiday
I have tried it several times now, the first I was so desperate for it to hatch but it stubbornly remained a cocoon for much longer than expected so I packed it in the car and took it on holiday with us.
In its little cocoon state it got a tour of Brittany and the Midi Pyrenees before returning home still in stasis. – I fear it may have fried being left in the car in Mediterranean temperatures.
step 2 – Employ staff
Another time, the flipping caterpillar was taking so long to turn into anything and again failed to coincide with our travel plans so was sent to a petsitter. My friend fed and cared for it and dutifully let me know when it appeared to be making moves towards a transformation. He returned to us in cocoon state and again we waited, and waited.
Said cocoon hatched into a Tiger Moth, Hurrah!
But with only one wing fully working. The other failed to open completely and he perished quickly. I tried not to see it as a reflection of my caregiver skills. This is just nature’s way I told myself.
step 3 – Improve your eyesight
So this brings me back to Idea 50. To be honest most friends of mine managed to hatch a butterfly successfully but still a perfect transformation eludes us.
But, of course this is not really the point, it doesn’t matter if it actually works or not. The kids have learned to love the outside world a little more despite its unpredictability or perceived unsuccess. Don’t let the lack of success put you off.
The kids really don’t mind .
As I write this we have another cocoon that we are waiting patiently for something to appear from.
During all these times, my kids have never failed to replenish caterpillar food stocks or ask about each one. They are always the first to notice a change of colour and eagerly consult butterfly pictures in anticipation of what’s to come.
The perceived success or failure of such attempts in our eyes is just that. It’s what we see. We just need to adjust our vision.
For kids, the enthusiasm and curiosity is still there.
Another of our non happening cocoons after 4 months got sliced open to really find out what was going on inside and inspired a mini autopsy on the kitchen table.
Yes, I confess, several caterpillars have perished as the result of me and my family’s actions, so have many snails and plants. But none of these are endangered species. If you feel appalled by this confession, well, we should probably not meet in person and feel free to unsubscribe yourself from my mailing list.
But what is lost in the life of a few caterpillars is gained in the love, fascination and curiosity of the natural world.
A positive footnote.
The only time it worked really well for us was on receiving one of the pre ordered kits. The caterpillars arrived in the post all complete with plenty of food, we were lucky to have a warm week and within a few days chrysalis appeared and sure enough all 5 became beautiful Painted Lady butterflies that we released outside to the lavender.
(so this is how to hatch a butterfly!)
It was a true thrill for all.
Click here for another 59 wild ideas to get up to this holiday