I was out in the yard when I saw my 12-year-old returning from an adventure earlier than expected. The leaves in his hands gave away what else he must be bringing home.
On our hikes and walks we are always looking under milkweed leaves for monarch eggs or caterpillars and this time he struck gold.
Jack placed the caterpillar in my terrarium with some milkweed leaves until we could get it a better home. We bought a critter cage and the boy made it his mission to bring home and wash fresh leaves a couple of times a day. Caterpillars eat a lot and their poop is bigger than mouse poop.
In a few days our caterpillar was hanging from the top of the cage. A few days after that (we need to keep better records, eh?) we discovered it had turned into a chrysalis.
A week or so later I noticed that there was a line or zipper looking thing near the top of the chrysalis running at a right angle to the length. About a week later the chrysalis turned black. It was not dead. A few hours later a butterfly was hanging there. We let it hang for an hour or so and then brought the cage outside and loosened and propped open the top, with the butterfly still hanging upside down.
When we checked a few hours later, the butterfly’s wings were dry, but it was fluttering around inside the clear plastic box and seemed to be having a hard time getting out of it. I offered it a twig and it obligingly stepped onto it. I lifted the stick out of the box and the flutterbye fluttered fluttered fluttered up up up and into a tree.