Doing Our Part to Help…Cabbage Butterflies

Emily’s recent obsession with cabbage caterpillars is now officially out of control.

About a week ago, I sent her out to the yard to collect kale leaves and feed them to the chickens. She grabbed a few pieces and then yelled, “Mama! Come and see this caterpillar I found!”

She ran to the door and showed me a slender green caterpillar squirming uncomfortably on its leaf. “That’s a cabbage caterpillar, sweetheart. Best feed it to the chickens, they will probably appreciate the treat.” I told her.

A few minutes later and she came in, a sneaky/guilty look on her face, hiding a container behind her back. I gave her the look and her face changed to one of pleading, “Please, Mama, can I keep it for just one day?” I agreed, and somehow we ended up with another…bringing our total to two…

That was a week ago. The caterpillar munched happily for a day, comfortably ensconced in Ladybug Island, with its choice of tasty kale leaves. Then it began to form a chrysalis…

“Mama! It’s a pupa now!” Emily was so excited. We had visited Wikipedia and looked up cabbage butterflies there, comparing the pictures on the screen to what was happening in Ladybug Island.

And if I could just point out the amount of poop these creatures produce. This picture was taken four days ago, after an initial cleaning out of all poop…

I’m renaming Ladybug Island to Poop Island.

At this point we have at least five of the little buggers in the container. The first one that formed its chrysalis got wet and promptly rotted. Another lesson learned.

So far there are now three in their chrysalis – one of which is noticeably paler than the rest. It is very interesting to watch their developments over the course of each day. I estimate we have another day or two until at least one hatches into a butterfly. Emily is, of course, enthralled.

Our week to date (as of the writing of this post) in homeschool included the following activities…

9/15/2012 Saturday: Went to see John Lithgow-he read from some of the books he has written, one of the two caterpillars Emily collected has gone into its pupa.
9/16/2012 Sunday: Went on a day trip to Glasgow, Missouri and tour an open house of an 1885 mansion. Explained a lot about how life was back in post-Civil War Missouri, pre-electricity, cars, and indoor plumbing.
9/17/2012 Emily collected several more caterpillars to study and we now have two in pupa stage, one forming and three caterpillars. The pupa will take 5-7 days to become butterflies. We collected all of the overripe Asian pears and fed them to the chickens and collected eggs. The chickens are fed house scraps on a daily basis and Emily is responsible for taking the scraps out and checking for eggs. I consider this life skills and science. Swimming lesson tonight. Emily did a craft project of her own initiative and made “tags” for several people. She asked for my help in spelling names and wrote them down. We also did a small handful of sight words (non-phonetic) on flash cards. She did more drawing and crafts, including attempting to draw a chair, something she has not done before.
9/18/2012 Practiced counting by 5s and 10s to 100. She is nearly seamless with this now. We still need to conquer counting by 2s. Also, practiced coin recognition and values – she can name quarters, dimes and pennies – and she knows that dimes are 10 cents and pennies are one cent, still working on the rest of the coins. Story time today, teacher has expanded to include words to recognize, so beginning reading. Groundbreaking ceremony @ her dad’s work included crafts and activities for kids. Emily asked how food looks as it is chewed and swallowed – we watched an xray video on YouTube of someone eating and drinking. We also played consonant diagraph Bingo with a visiting friend. Reviewed counting from 1-10 in Spanish, corrected her on treis.
9/19/2012 Read a book on Citizenship and discussed differences between native-born and naturalized citizens in U.S., also read a book on coins and discussed the different features. Read from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and attempted to construct a bookshelf (need Dave’s help on this!). Emily had the opportunity to read and interpret a schematic. She also collected MORE caterpillars and we discussed the difference in the now four pupas and what stages of development they are in. Homeschool P.E., plus a walk to the community center (including a detour through a wooded area that has just been opened up with walking trails) and swimming lessons.


Life is never boring around here!

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