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!

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