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Butterflies are so pretty and fascinating to watch, so we have been doing some hands on learning about them.  Our tiny caterpillars arrived via the friendly postman (who meeting us out on our dog walk handed them over with some biscuits for the dog too!) on 25th April.  It was then time to close our geography topic, and link the caterpillars with the science topic of animal life cycles.  On the 7th and 8th of May all 5 started to form their cocoons.  The caterpillars making their cocoons all at a similar time is something that hasn’t happened before.  We usually have one really early one, and one very late one, leaving us worried the poor first cocoon will hatch into a butterfly before they are moved out of the small jar, into the butterfly house!

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IMG_7779We left the cocoons to harden up for a few days, before moving them into the pop up butterfly house, ready to watch them hatch.  Usually this is a rather traumatic job, involving removing a plastic lid, then carefully peeling back the tissue top the cocoons have attached themselves onto (which by now has a few holes in it too making it even more precarious), and then rather shakily trying to pin it to the side of the butterfly house.  This year though, with the caterpillars came a simple idea.  It was a flat box to construct, with a slit in the top.  Therefore all I had to do was undo the lid, and stand it into the slot, complete with tissue still on that the cocoons were attached too.  Much less traumatic and shaky!

IMG_78449 days later our first butterfly very quietly emerged from its cocoon.  I am always surprised how such a big event passes me by.  They are in full view in the kitchen and I’ll check them, all cocoons, to discover the next time I go back there will be a butterfly merrily sat there taking some careful flutters on its wings!  This happened twice on the day 9 cheeky things, don’t they know my children want to see them pop out!!  They do seem to spray red stuff (called blood by the trio due to its appearance) liberally though in the process.  Maybe white draws are not the best place to let this process happen, oh well too late now, it can join the glitter and sequins adorning the kitchen!  I popped some greenery in the butterfly house and some sugary solution onto the red sponge feeding stations, trying to make their home welcoming and cosy, until all have hatched and we can set them free…. I then pottered off leaving the hole butterfly house open much to the disgust of our little lady who suitably waved her finger at me and said “Mamma!!” with as much displeasure as she could 🙂  That’ll teach me! All 5 butterflies were safely emerged by 48 hours later, and we kept then for another 24 hours before releasing them.

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We gently handled them out of the butterfly house.  The butterflies were very compliant and let all three have a little hold of them.  They were beautiful, very sturdy, and fluffy butterflies, and with a full count of five hatching properly, I think it’s probably the best batch we’ve had.

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Butterflies - hands on learning, caterpillars, cocoons, butterfly, insects, www.mammasschool.co.uk