Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Raising Monarchs in 2008

This is the second year that the girls have raised and released monarchs. Last year, there seemed to be a lot more caterpillars than this year. Read an article during the summer which said that for some reason people were noticing a decline in the number of monarchs. With fewer butterflies, they wondered what next year would be like.

That being said, the caterpillars the girls did find in the backyard were fascinating to watch. They have an indoor screened cage where they raise the caterpillars. Each day, they pick fresh milkweed leaves and put them in the cage.

They watch the caterpillars grow rather rapidly...and then make the crawl up the side of the cage.

"They're in the 'J' position!" I'll hear one day.

They watch...and wait. Take a break. Come back later...and watch....and wait.

One of the caterpillars last year they were able to see change right in front of their eyes. It's an amazingly quick process. This year, they saw the tail end of the change which was interesting for them to watch.

After about 20 days, the butterfly emerges, dries off its wings, and the girls bring in fresh flowers for the butterfly to enjoy. They keep it inside for less than a day, and then release it towards the evening.

This year, two of the butterflies stayed around for a rather long time, giving the girls the opportunity to observe them. One of the butterflies each put on a little "show" for the girls by fluttering right in front of their faces.

They can read about monarchs in a science book, but for them to actually raise, touch, and release these beautiful butterflies first-hand is invaluable. These are experiences that they will remember!

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