Caterpillar to Butterfly: Metamorphosis at home

images of girl holding caterpillar and caterpillar creating cocoonWhat you’ll learn:

The butterfly lifecycle, including metamorphosis.

Key takeaways:

Spring is when you start to see all the baby animals venturing out for the first time. And with those baby animals there are caterpillars a plenty to be found. While it is difficult to catch and grow your own caterpillars into butterflies due to their very specific diet, you can easily order a kit that has everything you need. This is a great dinner table science project as the length of the project allows you to come back to it regularly.

The overall lifecycle is 3-4 weeks, which means you have about one week in each stage. This allows you to do more in depth learning during each phase of the lifecycle and relate it to what kids see in their nets. There isn’t much to doing this project, but we have outlined some differentiated project ideas and cool facts about painted lady butterflies below!

Project Ingredients: Butterfly growing kit

image collage of butterflies at various points in the metamorphosis cycle5 Project Based Learning Ideas for your Caterpillar Metamorphosis Project

  1. Have your child keep a metamorphosis journal. Each day they can write or draw what they see happening.
  2. Research the difference between a chyrsalis and a cocoon. What are the benefits and drawbacks to each?
  3. Research how to make a butterfly garden. What makes these plants special? Build a butterfly garden near your house and track how many butterflies visit over time.
  4. Research what types of fruits the Painted Lady butterly prefers, then setup a station to record their feeding habits from a variety of those fruits. Graph your results to discover preferences.
  5. Create a model of the butterfly lifecycle and place the current life stage of your butterfly next to the net.

5 Cool facts about Painted Lady Butterflies

  1. Painted Lady butterflies are the most widely dispersed butterfly species. They can be found on 5 different continents, having yet to reach Australia or Antarctica. Because of it’s naturally large territory it is unlikely that the Painted Lady butterfly is invasive to your area – but be sure to double check where you live before releasing them into the wild!
  2. Painted Lady butterflies are long haul fliers with the ability to fly up to 100 miles per day with speeds reaching up to 30 miles per hour – faster than you can ride a bike!
  3. Painted Lady caterpillars construct silk tents, which means that thin white stringy residue in your caterpillar cup is silk!
  4. Painted Lady butterfly (and all butterfly) blood is clear. This is because butterflies, and insects in general, don’t use their blood to transport respiratory gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide. Instead, their blood is used specifically to transport nutrients.
  5. Painted Lady butterflies don’t have to breathe. Instead oxygen to their body tissue is delivered directly from the outside environment through a series of small tubules.