We were delighted to find Monarch Butterfly caterpillars at Becky's Garden. Every year Becky saves the milkweed that comes up in her garden and all around her studio. Ryan spotted colorful yellow-black-white striped caterpillars munching on the milkweed. We carefully collected them and took back to the preschool building. The caterpillar turned into chrysalis within 4 days. The chrysalis hung from the container lid which kept the fresh milkweed plant, but the "button" where the top of the chrysalis attaches to the lid was different from ones I have seen in the past. It was loosely attached and instead of being attached directly, it was hanging from a silk thread. I was little worried about the silk thread breaking, but it never did.
The next 2 weeks and a half, children observed the chrysalis color turn from beautiful light green to the color of the Monarch Butterfly. The change happened slowly but every day it became more and more obvious that the butterfly was getting formed inside the chrysalis. We had picture books and magazine pictures to learn what to expect. Children enjoyed looking through the magnifying glass, singing songs about Monarch Butterflies, playing with a butterfly finger puppet, and painting butterflies. We learned how to tell the sex of the butterfly. Each one predicted whether the butterfly was going to be a girl or a boy.
On Friday, October 6, it was a warm autumn day. We played around all morning waiting for the butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis. We decided to not go on a walk. We carefully moved the chrysalis to the playground so we could keep checking on it, but the butterfly took its own time and did not emerge. Children all wished a good journey to the butterfly and went home after the pickup time.
In the evening at 6 pm, I returned to the quiet playground and found that the chrysalis was empty. I scanned around the nearby bushes but did not see any butterfly. "I missed it," I thought, but the next moment I saw big bright orange wings spread wide as if to say, "I am still here!". The butterfly was on the tip on the seedpod of the milkweed plant which was stuck in the container that the chrysalis was on. It had already had the full length of the wings and wings were not droopy indicating that it has been more than an hour. The wings looked still slightly damp and the butterfly was "exercising" and perhaps drying the wings. It was such a treat to be able to stare at the details it at arm's length. It is simply amazing how beautiful and perfect a creature can look. I wish the children were able to see the final stage of this magical transformation of the Monarch Butterfly.