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The Butterfly Project

Day 1 - milkweed! nomnom!


My boss’s husband helps raise butterflies. 

I don’t think he got into it intentionally, it just happened.  He started noticing a lot of monarch butterflies in their yard in the fall, and decided to find out where they were coming from.  

Roll the years forward, and you come to today.  Every year, he collects some of the caterpillars, and distributes them to people that want to experience this lovely small miracle.  The complete transformation from leaf-munching caterpillar, to beautiful, winged, delicate butterfly.  We were lucky enough this year to get ahold of one of them.  We named him Sneaky Pete.  You’ll see why. 

On Day 2, Pete decided he was full of milkweed, and ready to do some funky interior decorating.  He attached himself to the underside of one of the leaves, and dangled.  Waiting.  I could almost hear him in a little tiny, yet somehow husky voice saying 

“I vant to be alone.  Alone!” 

That same night (last Friday, to be exact), I was working on our floor demo project late into the night.  I stopped at about 1:30am to take a shower.  He was still dangling when I stepped into the bathroom.  When I came out, 15 minutes later, he had whipped up his chrysalis and had gone into seclusion for the duration.  

See?  Sneaky Pete.  This theme would continue. 

Day 4-still no changes


So I started snapping daily pictures of the chrysalis, and sharing them on Facebook.  These are some of the pictures I shared.  And, even though there were no real, visible changes from day to day on the chrysalis for a while, I still dutifully snapped pictures.  I had people dangling, waiting, for the big day.  

I think they were getting a little bored with seeing an immobile green pod.  Even though I tried to make it interesting, it even started to make me yawn occasionally.  

Day 9, and some small change


Day 9 rolled around, and we started noticing some small changes in the color of the chrysalis.  It was beginning to get a little darker, a little thinner.  

Pete was repainting. 

Day 10-getting closer


The chrysalis started to be obviously darkening on Day 10.  The bottom of the chrysalis seemed to have started to get some “dark shadowing”. 

The room was getting a little small for Pete. 

Day 11-in the evening-before bed


On Day 11, I started feeling like an expectant parent, anxiously awaiting the birth of a child.  Well, on a miniature scale, anyway.  More obvious color changes.  I went to bed, certain that we had a few more days ahead of us. 

Pete had other ideas. 

Day 12, woke me up to this. 

OnlySon said in his indomitable wisdom: 

Well, Mom, either he’s ready to hatch out, or… he’s dead.”  

I knew this was the warning bell.  24 hour warning, and I had no idea when this had happened! 

Four hours later, at about 11:30 A.M., my daughter texted me this photo.  Noone saw the actual “hatching”, of course. 

Sneaky Pete had tried for his clean getaway, and failed, due to a screwed-on lid on the jar! 

That evening, we took Pete to a local park, and released him.  He will be on his way to Mexico, shortly, migrating for his winter hibernation.  

I’m going to post the pictures of the release in a post of their own a little later, so stay tuned!  Sneaky Pete will return!


4 thoughts on “The Butterfly Project

  1. He is such a beautiful butterfly, but caterpillars scare me to DEATH! I don’t know why, I love being around butterflies, but the second I see a caterpillar coming toward me I run!
    But I can’t wait to see the release!!!

    • They creep me out too, a little, to be quite honest! All the squirming and wriggling, and the caterpillar does that too! *nudge, wink*

      It was a lot of fun, I’ve done this with the kids before, and I’ll do it again, I know.

    • I’m so glad everyone got to enjoy it with us. It’s a special thing for me, with Butterfly being my special creature. Makes me want to plant milkweed next year and set aside a special portion of the yard for them. Hmm… Yeah!

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