Happy Summer – Part 2: Painted Lady Butterflies

What an AWESOME year-end project!  A big brown box arrived with the words “Live Specimens” on it, and the excitement began!  We watched our little caterpillars change from smooth and brown into spiky and black.  They made little webs, ate and grew like crazy and deposited lots of frass!  We were so excited when they started to make J-shapes and then molted for the last time and became pupas.  Gradually we could see the shiny gold through the thin skin of the chrysalids.  We loved watching our newly hatched butterflies… but even better was the chance to actually hold them.  “Butterfly Freedom Day”  was the best part of all… until we found out that our little butterflies had LAID EGGS before they flew away!  We each got to take home TWO teeny, tiny, itty, bitty caterpillars for the summer holidays!

The Butterfly Life Cycle
Here are photos of the Painted Ladies in our classroom, showing all the amazing changes of metamorphosis!

Butterfly Life Cycle on PhotoPeach

The Butterfly Pavilion – holding the butterflies!
We went into the Pavilion two students at a time.  When you lick your finger and gently push it under the butterfly, it will often walk right onto your finger!  The sweetness in our saliva attracts them and you can watch the little proboscis come out to taste your finger!

The Butterfly Pavilion Experience! on PhotoPeach


Butterfly Freedom Day!
Mrs. B. took the Pavilion tent into our outdoor Sanctuary.  We sketched and colored as we waited for turns to bring our little butterflies out into the world to fly free! 



Butterfly Freedom Day! from Nora Boekhout on Vimeo.

Full set of photos available at
but you’ll need our password to view them!


Are YOUR caterpillars getting ready
for metamorphosis?



It’s Metamorphosis! That’s Metamorphosis!

What excitement!  A box marked URGENT and LIVE SPECIMENS arrived! 

Most of the class guessed what was in it… because Mrs. Boekhout hadn’t been very good about keeping the secret!  It was our Painted Lady Caterpillars! The surprise was, however, they were SO SMALL and there were SO MANY of them!  Could these tiny, wiggly creatures actuallygrow into beautiful little butterflies?

While Mrs. B. was busy getting all the special equipment ready, the class was exercising their brains on two important questions: 
1) What do I ALREADY KNOW about butterflies? 
2) What do I WONDER about butterflies?

Most of the class DID have lots of facts tucked away in their “memory pockets“… and some students even drew diagrams of the life cycle and the anatomy of butterflies.  There was still room for LOTS of interesting questions!

Caterpillar Questions

I wonder how many caterpillar legs there are?
Do caterpillars have sticky feet? Sticky toes?
What do caterpillars drink?
What do caterpillars eat?
What happens inside a cocoon?
How big are caterpillars?
Do caterpillars eat 1000 leaves before making a cocoon?
I wonder how many times a caterpillar sheds?
I wonder if caterpillars make webs?
Can caterpillars dig?
I wonder if caterpillars are insects?
Can caterpillars eat pine cones?

 How many kinds of caterpillars and butterflies are there?
How do caterpillars turn into butterflies?
How fast do caterpillars grow to be butterflies?

 Butterfly Questions

I wonder when butterflies wings get wet, can they still fly?
I wonder how many legs butterflies have?
Do butterflies have bones? A nose?  Hair?  Sticky feet? Teeth?
Can butterflies fly around the world?
Where is the spot that butterflies get nectar?
Do butterflies make pollen?
Do butterflies have 4 wings?
Hiow do they smell with their feet?
Do they hear with their wings?
Why do they have a long curved tongue?
Why do butterflies land on 4 feet.
How do butterflies smell?
Do butterflies eat anything?  Do they eat leaves like caterpillars?
How do butterflies make babies?
Where do butterflies come from?
How big are butterflies?
What colors are butterflies?
How do butterflies fly to flowers?
How long do butterflies live?
Can butterflies fight other insects?
Can butterflies fly upside down?
I wonder how big a butterfly’s eggs are?
I wonder what the butterfly’s feeding tube is called.
Are butterflies important to flowers?
Do butterflies do different things to help the environment?
How fast can butterflies fly?
I wonder what a butterfly’s favorite food is.
I wonder where a butterfly’s favorite place is.

As we WATCH, and READ, and SHARE, and LEARN about caterpillars and butterflies in the next few weeks, I’m sure we will answer many of those questions!


You can see more photos of Painted Lady caterpillars and butterflies on Mrs. B’s Classroom Pets website.