Sunday, April 16, 2017

4-H Butterfly Emergence Project: Part 2

If you happen to be curious about caterpillar growth and you missed Part 1 of our project, you can go check out how TINY our caterpillars were to begin with at this link right here.  You can also find a little bit of info over there about how we ended up with 12 caterpillars dining with us each day at our kitchen table.  This homeschooling life is an adventure, no doubt!

In an effort not to bore you with daily photos that aren't showing much as the week has progressed, we'll skip to Day 13.

Caterpillars number 1 and 2 that I was originally photographing in the part 1 blog post are still incredibly small.  Honestly, if it weren't for the occasional movement that I have witnessed, I would believe that they are dead.  It's also concerning that there isn't many holes in their food meaning they haven't eaten much and as mentioned before caterpillars eat the majority of their food and nutrients now in the caterpillar stage.

Day 13 Photos--

In our training, it was said that it should take 7-10 days for the caterpillars to get through the first stage of life and move onto making their chrysalis.  However, it was also mentioned that they enjoy light and warmth, ideally 85 degrees.  Our house is definitely not 85 degrees, and we have had several cooler temperature days in this last week.  Hoping the ones who have progressed will begin to move onto phase two of their life cycle this week as it warms up.

Above is caterpillar number 11.  This is more of what some of the others look like, though still all varying sizes.  The varying degrees of growth is not something that I was anticipating.  I sort of assumed they would all hit each phase at the same time and that we would have one butterfly release at the end-- but at this rate, we may be releasing a few at a time.  You can see that big black spot in front of it which is an exoskeleton that it has shed during a molt. 

Caterpillar number 6 which is the second largest of the twelve pictured up above.  You can see lots of frass (poop) and there is a lot less food in this one's cup.

And above is caterpillar number 5 which has been the biggest one from the start of our project.  There's hardly any food in his/her habitat, and I'm unable to take a photo with the lid off because of all the silk around it.  Plus, this one is currently lying upside down so I'm hoping that means we might be headed to phase 2 (chrysalis) and I do not want to disturb it.  Hopefully there is some excitement to come in the next few days!

Day 18 Photos--

In the last 2-3 days, we now have our very first two fully formed Chrysalis.  As expected, they are our larger caterpillars number 5 and 6 that we have been documenting closely.  I transferred them over to the mesh bag today so that when the butterflies emerge from them, they have space to move and fly.  Now more waiting.

Have no fear, the bag stays zipped!  No butterflies will be roaming the house. 

We have one more caterpillar that has attached to the lid and formed it's "J" shape so it should be a Chrysalis within the next day or so I would believe.  (Caterpillar number 11)

... And we also have 3 very large caterpillars that are still roaming and eating their fill of their caterpillar food goop.  (Numbers 3, 4 and 9)

And sadly, I think we have one caterpillar death.  One tiny, tiny, tiny one that just hasn't grown.  We're keeping an eye on it, but I fear that it's been a goner.  All part of the life cycle learning process I suppose.

Just more watching and waiting and observing.  Another update to come!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Leeland turns 7!

Tonight we celebrated the biggest kid.  The one who made us parents first. 

On this day seven years ago, we were nervous, anxious, smitten and in total awe of this little boy that God has gifted us with.  

Our celebration tonight with family consisted of Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins running amuck.  After seven years, I think we're finally finding our groove when it comes to parties, and it doesn't seem to get any better with excellent grilling weather each April.  

We had burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, deviled eggs, chips, baked beans.... And of course cake!  Pikachu chocolate cake to be exact along with some "energy ball" Pokemon cookies. 

Pokemon is the latest craze in the Kroh house with cards everywhere and binders taken here and there for trading with friends all the time.  One of his favorite Pokemon cards happens to be his awesome birthday invite though.  ("Venue" blurred out for obvious reasons.)

Not much brings me greater joy than spoiling my children.  And I'm so thankful that we have family and friends who love them and enjoy spoiling them too.

Our Leeland is kind, genuine, and smart.  He tells it like it is, is curious, and he's one fantastic big brother to his younger siblings.  I'm excited and thankful that I get to watch him grow year after year. I can't wait to see what God has in store for his future and continue to pray that his light shines bright.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

4-H Butter Fly Emergence Project: Part 1

We are not members of 4-H, but they offer some wonderful resources to local teachers and schools, one of them is a yearly project learning about science and life cycles.  Typically it involves incubating fertilized chicken eggs and getting to see them hatch and later returning the baby chicks to 4-H.  Awesome, right?  We were so excited to participate for the first time with our boys (and homeschool) this year, and then the bird flu happened in neighboring states and sadly 4-H was not able to get the eggs from their distributor.  In an effort to still offer something to those who had signed up to incubate eggs, the idea of butterflies was brought to the table.  I asked the boys how they felt about it and naturally they were thrilled!  So while several teachers dropped out of the project as they were not interested in butterflies, we carried on and here we are.

While I'm absolutely NOT a caterpillar or butterfly expert, and am learning right alongside of the boys with this one, I thought it would be fun to document our findings here.

The caterpillars were shipped to the agricultural extension on Wednesday, March 29th and we picked them up at our information meeting the afternoon of March 30th.

For the sake of tracking and observing, we will say that these pictures taken on Friday March 31st are day 3 for the caterpillars growth.  They are much smaller than I was expecting, but I'm told they grow very fast.  These are "Painted Lady Butterflies" and like all butterflies, their life cycle is comprised of 3 stages-- Larval stage which lasts 7-10 days (caterpillar), Pupal stage another 7-10 days (chrysalis) and adult stage which is is 2-3 weeks (butterfly).   There are 17,000 different species of butterflies and the Painted Lady butterfly is found on every continent except Antartica and Australia.

Day 3 Photos--

Our 12 caterpillars.  We've numbered the bottoms of the cups to track them and observe them.  The beige "goop" is their food.  The majority of their eating in their life is done as a caterpillar.  They are getting all of their nutrients for growth now, and once they are butterflies they only eat to sustain energy.

To my knowledge, the little sand looking granules in the photos is frass.  Frass is the caterpillar word for poop.  Naturally one of my children who is prone to potty humor, loved learning about this part.

Later on we will begin to see black specks in the cups which is from them molting.  They will molt and shed their exoskeleton up to 5 times before they form their chrysalis.   

So far, we just know that they like light, warmth and they eat a lot. 

Day 4 Photos--

Day 5 Photos--

So all of the photos thus far the last few days have been of only caterpillar number 1 and number 2.  Taking pictures of the same caterpillars each day gives a more precise picture of growth and what's happening.  But today, our biggest caterpillar number 5 has silk all around it and it looks super interesting.  None of the others look like this-- it's almost like a spider web around it.  Wondering if caterpillar number 5 may actually be older than the others simply because of it's size and the amount of silk it has produced.  Maybe we'll start seeing the chrysalis in a few days?

Day 6 Photos--
Oops!  My apologies, no photos on this day.

Day 7 Photos--

So now that we are a week into this project, I'm realizing that I randomly picked the smallest two caterpillars to photo for progress.  Yep, caterpillars 1 and 2, which I have been following all week, are indeed the tiniest of the bunch.  I can still see that they have grown since the first pictures, just not as much or as fast as some of the others.  Hopefully they develop and grow soon because here is what numbers 5 and 6 look like currently.

.... More photos to come in future "parts" of our project.  Channeling my inner Ms. Frizzle!

** You can check out our Part 2 Post over here.