Saturday, May 4, 2013

Caterpillar Envy

This is the first year teaching, or really, in my whole life, that I've ever gotten caterpillars to try to raise into butterflies.  There is something amazing about the fact that they come in the mail.  And then you just pop them into the net and spread out the food and wait.  If only I had been the only one to do this, then I would have never known.  But two of my teammies got the caterpillars too.  And after a couple of days, the truth unveiled itself. 

My caterpillars are anorexic.  Or starving.  Or duds.  Or something.   
Just look at this monster.  Two days.  That's it- and it's four times its size.

And here's mine.  What the hey?

It shouldn't matter.  I'm aware that the size of these caterpillars does not define me as a person.  And yet... Gadzooks it chaps my bum!  RED ALERT!!!  So my kids and I spent the morning researching.  We found this site on Squidoo  that aside from showing some cool video- told us a bit about what they eat.  The only thing was, do we have this out on the playground?  We looked hard at the picture of a thistle plant and decided to go look.  We also came across a reference to that they have been known to eat dandelions.  And we knew we had those.  So off we went.

We sort of ended up with anything we found.  And what we thought could possibly be a thistle went into the box as well, along with a lot of OW OW OW!  And then we popped half of it into the butterfly cage and now we wait.  Hopefully we didn't poison them.  It's the weekend though, so we won't know until Monday.  Won't that be a tense ride to work? 

Actually, I've been a lot more hands-on sciencey this year.  We even planted seeds the other week.  Turns out my city kids loved stirring up the dirt the most.  I've really got to start having sensory boxes in my classroom.  I love Sandi's posts on them over at Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes.  And she's given me some pretty neat ideas on how to make them academically linked to second grade.  But, just as I am caterpillar challenged, I am apparently bean challenged as well.  
Not a sprout.  Sheesh.  We did transplant them the other day and saw tap roots- but now nothing.  Perhaps we traumatized them.  I do not have a green thumb, people.  Plants wilt when they see me coming.  However- it does appear that the forget-me-nots might not be a total loss.  Just, can they survive long enough to be transplanted?

 And, miracle of miracles, looks like the watermelon might just be wanting to make an appearance.

All in all, even if this totally doesn't work out, it's on my list to have more of this kind of thing more often next year.  Anyone else already in next year mode?


  1. Have faith in Mother Nature - and buy some good liquid fertilizer at a plant nursery. I've also been known to replace the not growing so well seeds that my kids planted with ones bought at the nursery. Fertilize them Friday night, Monday morning they look great! Last year my caterpillars were looking a bit on the scrawny side too. Our food dried out really really fast. Painted ladies like hollyhocks. Back to the plant nursery and I talked them into giving me a couple 4" hollyhock plants to save the caterpillars. They stripped it down to the stem. Happy spring!

    rubberboots and elf shoes

  2. My class also is "raising" caterpillars and we ordered them through the mail. (Which I also thought was super cool.) But ours came in a small cup with a lid and the food (some brown matter that looks like oatmeal) was stuck to the side of the cup. The caterpillars just ate and ate for a week and the food is almost gone. Then they went to the top of the lid, hung upside down and started going into their chrysalis. When we left school Friday one was in and the others will probably be in when we return Monday. Then all we do is move the lid into the net, attach it to the top and wait for our butterflies. If you want me to send you the name of the company we used, I can. This is my first year to do this too! Oh, and we have one tiny one too. He is about 1/3 the size of the others. We will probably have to let him go on the playground when the food is gone. Good luck! Sorry, long comment!

  3. We did the butterfly thing a few years ago and it was so exciting! But I left it til the end of the year and only some were ready to be released. I took the rest home and some didn't make it. It bummed me out so much I haven't done it since. haha! But I think I will next year!
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