Our painted lady caterpillars molted, molted again and formed chrysalides, hung out for a few days, didn't seem to notice our ham-handed transfer of them to our butterfly barn, and then hatched!
We only managed to witness one butterfly actually in the process of emerging, but we somehow saw all the others immediately afterwards, wings all little and wrinkled and cramped. We watched their wings unwrinkle and spread out as blood filled them, watched them poop meconium all down the nice, white mesh of our bug barn (it's in the laundry queue now!), watched them gradually stop looking dazed and listless and sleepy and start looking fluttery and alert and quite interested in their sugar water treat.
And when that happened, they were ready to fly away:
Well, maybe they could stop for a visit, first:
While this experience wasn't quite as nice as with our wild-caught black swallowtail chrysalides (I know that the painted lady caterpillars truly didn't care that they were locked into a plastic cup with their nummies for the caterpillar portion of their little lives, it bothered ME. I wanted to give them leaves and stems and caterpillar enrichment activities, but I was also afraid of corrupting their sterile environment and killing them off somehow), it was nevertheless pretty great. This summer animal biology study has been a precious experience for all of us, and based on the great questions that Syd, in particular, has been asking, and the things that she's curious about (yep, I now own this whole set of children's sex-ed books, and the big events that have been happening to her body (Finally, a loose tooth! Finally, riding her pedal bicycle!), I think that the human biology study that we're going to dial down to when we finish up with all our animal friends is going to be pretty popular, too.
Will's going to be doing this study with us too, of course, but I've been trying to encourage her to self-direct more of her learning, and so it appears that along with math, and biology, and Latin, and Story of the World, and drawing, and the 50 states, we'll soon be starting a study on the history of video games.
How epic is that going to be, right?!?