The emergence of a butterfly from its chrysalis is an exciting climax to a classroom activity that follows the developmental stages in the life of an insect. When placed in a container that allows for easy viewing by all students, butterfly larvae collected from leaves on native plants can be observed over a period of months, during which time they feed, grow, prepare their pupa cases, and withdraw from visible activity until the long-awaited E-Day. Students should be encouraged to "adopt" a larva and follow the sequence of events in which the organism undergoes a complete change in form and emerges as an adult butterfly.
Recommended Grade Level:
Science skills development
- A clear plastic sweater box or shoe box
- A shallow cup
- A square of nylon net
- Moist soil
- A large rubber band
- Two or three caterpillars of painted lady or other species
- Two or three leafy twigs from the plant on which the caterpillars were found
Enlist the aid of student volunteers for performing the following:
- Place a 1-inch base layer of moist soil in the bottom of a clear, plastic sweater box or shoe box.
- Set a small cup of water on the surface of the soil.
- Place two or three leafy twigs so that their cut ends are immersed in the water in the cup and their upper ends rest against the side of the box.
- Gently place the selected caterpillars on the twigs.
- Place a square of nylon net over the top of the box and secure it with a strong rubber band, thus forming an escape-proof lid that also provides the caterpillars with proper ventilation.
Encourage students to develop a sensitivity to the events occurring in the butterfly garden and to the well-being of the inhabitants. They should:
- Make necessary adjustments to ensure proper conditions of air, light, temperature, and moisture for the developing organisms.
- Observe the gradual changes that occur as the caterpillars pass through successive stages ofdevelopment in their life cycles, and mark on a calendar the amount of time spent in each developmental stage.
- Release adult butterflies into the outside environment when weather conditions are suitable.
Excerpted from Hands-On Science!