As those of you who know me know, I am not a fan of butterfly kits. If it is your only option, then they are better than nothing, but teaching children about butterflies native to your area and finding eggs is far more educational and memorable for the children.
We make our own butterfly life cycle observation stations, and I thought I would share a few tips with you.
First you will need:
Duct tape (I chose white to blend in with the white cover of my box, but you can use any kind.)
Kitchen Shears or other cutting implement.
I made sure to measure out the tape so that it was long enough to run the full length of the side. I used one piece of tape for each side. (4 pieces of tape) You can use as many as you want, just as long as you cover the entire perimeter of the screen with tape and secure it tightly to the lid.
I know it is hard to see in this photo, but the hole has a screen over it, and the duct tape holds it securely in place all the way around. (I like how the white tape blends in, that is why I chose white.) The screen is important to allow air circulation into the tote and it is what the caterpillars will attach to when they are ready to make a chrysalis. In the past, I have taped the screen on the inside of the tote, but I have found that the caterpillars tend to attach to the duct tape when you do that!
If you remember the giant magnifying glasses I showed you awhile back.... they work perfect to place on top. If you do not have a giant one, the smaller ones will work great for children to observe as well. (We do not keep the magnifying glass on the top all of the time, only when we are using it to observe.)
This little guy is just a day or so old and is crawling toward some frass (or caterpillar "poop.")
Here is a tiny little egg sitting on the leaf.
Here is a newly hatched caterpillar. You can see that this one has not yet grown into its stripes! It is light gray with a black head. As they grow, monarch caterpillars have stripes of white, black, and yellow.
Here is another close up of the frass.
Just to give you an indication of how cool this microscope is... Here are some regular photos:
This leaf has the caterpillar with the small dot of frass on it.
This leaf has an egg and a freshly hatched caterpillar on it.
Tomorrow, we are going to go on a hunt for more caterpillars and eggs. I'll make sure to remember the camera so that we can teach you all how to find your own monarch eggs and caterpillars! Last year, we spent months observing our little monarch friends. If you search the archives, you will find oodles of extension activities!