Butterfly Life Cycle – Caterpillars

Butterfly Life CycleWe’ve had our ‘grow your own’ butterfly kit for two weeks now, and as expected it’s been really exciting watching them grow. In fact, exciting is probably the wrong thing to say, since they don’t do very much, but it’s exhilarating anyway.

When your butterfly kit arrives, you have teeny little caterpillars that don’t look like much, but within days, they start to visibly change, to the point that you can tell the difference between going to bed and waking up – they have a huge growth spurt.

Butterfly Life Cycle
Butterfly Life CycleThe caterpillars come with their food already included, and watching the caterpillars grow leads to some interesting questions:

-What do caterpillars eat?

Different moths and butterfly caterpillars eat different things. The Painted Lady, which these are, eat thistles, stinging nettles and mallows. They eat the underside of the leaves, and they also use the leaves to form  nest in which they spin their silky cocoon.

Butterfly Life Cycle– Do caterpillars drink water?

No, in the wild they get enough water from the plant food they eat. In this kit they must get it from their food too.

– Why are they spinning webs in the pot?

In the wild they’d be spinning themselves on the leaves to keep them safe from wind and other threats. If they’re spinning silk in the cup it’s a good sign.

 – Where does the caterpillar poo go? 

There are little spots and in the tub – that’s their poo (cue: yuk!). Indeed.

There are fantastic resources to help you on your journey too, like the Butterfly Life Cycle from Twinkl or one of the ample free resources online too. And don’t forget Youtube – there’s everything from songs to kids shows about the butterfly life cycle. Also look at Enchanted Learning for a ton of free butterfly resources. 

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Bring Up A Butterfly …

As far as summer’s go, ours fizzled out a bit towards the end as our plans for the future began to unfold,  work took up a lot of my time, and life in general just had a bit of meh going on, especially once our friends packed up their lives and moved to Australia. One aspect of our summer that did lift me out of my funk a little, was the 50things campaign, which gave me a bit of time and focus on the children. If you find yourself struggling with getting outdoors, do have a look at the campaign. It helps focus otherwise busy mother’s mind on their children. It did for me, at least.

One of the things on the 50things list is Bring Up A Butterfly. It’s one we embraced with gusto, because my girls (4 & 2) really want a pet, but we can’t have one where we live. Of course, a butterfly isn’t a pet, so much, but it was quite the learning experience for them.

We bought a butterfly kit from Amazonwhich came with a net and a pot with caterpillars in it. The pot contains the worms, and the food they need till they transform.



It was really quite amazing for all of us, watching the teeny tiny caterpillars turn very quickly into large caterpillars and almost overnight go into their cocoons. They stay in Chrysalis form for almost two weeks, then, before you know it, there’s a cocoon shaking and rattling as the butterfly writhes its way out. Soon a beautiful Painted Lady joins the world, and like a deer finds it’s feet unsteadily at first. Bring Up A Butterfly

Before you know it, the butterfly has a sip of nectar, and so the cycle is complete.

We kept them in their basket until they were all steady and ready, and on a sunny afternoon went into the garden to let them go. Butterflies are incredibly low maintenance. You really just have to look at them, and once they are hatched, give them some nectar on a saucer. It’s even easier than a gold fish.

To turn this into a true learning experience, we also used Twinkl’s Butterfly Life Cycle resource.

*If you buy the kit any time other than the Spring, they will send you everything you need, except for the caterpillars. Those will be sent to you in the Spring. It makes a lovely gift though, which is what Ameli’s was, and consequent years you can just buy caterpillar refill packs. It’s also worth noting that you can also buy a Ladybird Kit.

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 38: Bring up a butterfly  on their list. You can see the full list here.