This spring we bought a butterfly habitat. We ordered our larvae and waited. We were pleasantly surprised when we checked the mail and there were 5 caterpillars waiting for us.
They were so tiny and cute. The brown stuff in the bottom of the jar is all the food they will need until they are fully developed butterflies.
Our caterpillars ate and ate and grew and grew. It took about a week and a half for them to get this big. One cool thing that we learned is that caterpillars can make webs similar to spiders.
Just before they turn into chrysalises they attach themselves upsidedown and hang in a "j" shape.
Within 24 hours they shed their skin and underneath is the beautiful, shiny, chrysalis.
Then you take the paper that they are hanging on an put it into their habitat so that when they hatch they are already in their home. If you move them at all they shake around. They do this to protect themselves from prey.
After waiting another 4 to 5 days, the butterflies emerge. Their wings are crumpled at first but spread out within minutes. The butterfly comes out of its chrysalis in under one minute. They need sugar to survive and love oranges.
We decided that our butterflies should be free. So the kids got to hold them for a second before they flew away. This was an amazing thing to watch and we will definitely order more painted lady caterpillars next year!