Well, we’ve had several ‘firsts’ over the last couple of weeks. It’s been all about the nature here and a lot of new learning for me too as the triop has grown to about 4 times his size and the caterpillars have all formed their chrysalids and have taken a road trip around the M25. Apparently butterflies travel well! The carrots and wild flower seeds are shooting through. The bee house is our only failure at the moment as I just can’t manage to secure it. The bees will have to find their own homes for now. On reflection, the ant farm is also a non starter as collecting 40 ants proved to be very difficult. We’ll have to go back to that one!
You are probably wondering why on earth we took the butterflies on a road trip? I spent much of my journey wondering the same! It’s just that we have studied them so closely for so long now and they should have emerged between Wednesday and Friday. Unfortunately, they weren’t keeping to schedule. Consequently, by Friday morning, with no sign of any change and a planned weekend away to go house hunting and visit ‘Truck mania‘ we (I) had no choice: Butterfly net was carefully loaded into the car and off we went. 2 children, 2 scooters, 3 bags and 5 chrysalids, off to the West Country! Truck mania is for another time as today I really wanted to write about the nature learning, whereas truck mania is really, well, about trucks.
Our fragile travel companions transferred from the car to the camper van and early on Saturday morning our first butterfly emerged. We managed not see it. One minute a blackened chrysalis, 10 minutes later, a beautiful butterfly on the side of the net. We called him Harry (of course!), later that day the second one, Thomas, made an entrance. We missed that one too. It’s worth mentioning though that these were two who had fallen from the lid of the pot and I wasn’t sure they would make it. Both did. So if you are planning on a butterfly project anytime soon, don’t give up on any that fall to the ground. It’s not all doom and gloom for them! By Sunday morning two more emerged. Having taken turns watching the net closely they too frustratingly managed to pop out in the few seconds that I had turned away. Are you spotting the pattern here?!
Our butterflies were released in the New Forest and we were able to share the experience with some camping friends we made, our little foster family who looked after the butterflies whenever we were away from them. The five children spent around an hour on Sunday evening releasing them, and observing how they seemed to build up the courage to leave their familiar surroundings.
I have a cousin, Jake, whose nickname is Shakey (I’m not sure why?) and so our final butterfly was to be called Jake due to the vigorous shaking at various points in it’s cycle. The first to form and the last to emerge; sadly Jake got stuck in the chrysalis and only his head and upper wings emerged. We fed him and he seemed to get an energy burst, but just couldn’t summon up the energy to come out. He’s been placed safely but sadly will have quickly fallen prey to the food chain.
We’ve taken lots of photos of the different stages of the cycle along with a couple of time lapse videos which we were very excited about.
You can watch one of them here (I hope). We left the iPad on all night. And this is the fascinating result…
Along with learning about butterflies, we’ve been learning about bees. Both boys can talk freely about pollination and L now does a great waggle dance! We went to a bee workshop at the wonderful Nucleus Arts where we learnt lots of bee facts, tasted local honey and created bee artwork. The photos below are how we followed this up at home.
The boys have also listened to The Flight of the Bumblebee, developing a bit of music appreciation and we had a go at bubble wrap printing to make beehives. This didn’t turn out quite like those seen on Pinterest, hence no photo. However, I am a firm believer that art is as much about the process as the outcome. The process was certainly fun!