Our dear friend Mrs. Jean, helped the kids catch a caterpillar so that they could watch him turn into a butterfly. First, he climbed around in his little cage, eating milkweed, the plant of choice for monarch caterpillars. Did you know that milkweed has a bitter taste? Eating a monarch is a mistake that a bird will only make once in his lifetime because of the taste of milkweed. Thus, the monarch is protected from his predator. After crawling around and feasting on milkweed, Stripey (as N and J named him) climbs to the highest point possible, affixes himself to this highest point and makes a J shape with his body. As he sits in his J his body transforms into a green jelly-like substance.
This somehow becomes a beautiful, perfect green chrysalis with tiny dots of gold lining one side. There seems to be no scientific explanation for these gold dots (correct me if I’m wrong) I wonder if they are simply for the pleasure of the Creator. I wish I had a picture of this part! There, the chrysalis hangs for approximately two weeks. Then, suddenly, his chrysalis turns jet black and is somehow transparent. Inside, you can see the markings of the monarch butterfly’s beautiful wings. Once the color change occurs, you know that the butterfly will make his debut into the world sometime within the next 24 hours.
This is the tricky part. Who’s just going to stare at a black thing for 24 hours? On top of this, the exit will only take about 2 minutes, maximum! This is when you add a little prayer. We sat the cage on the center of the living room table. Then we all gathered together and asked God to turn our attention to Stripy when he was about to come out.
Awhile later, N screamed…Mom, he’s hatching!! I don’t know if ‘hatch’ is the proper scientific term but hatch he did! It was the most amazing and beautiful process.
At first, his wings were tiny, his body much larger. He hung on with his legs and attempted to flap his tiny wings. Then, like a magic trick, before our very eyes, his wings began to grow! The liquid in his body chamber was being pumped into his wings!
We took him back over to Mrs. Jean’s house to be released.
Everyone got to hold him and tell him goodbye.
And then, we caught Spikey and did it all over again. He was a different species. We could tell he was going to hatch just before we went out of town for Christmas. So, we took him with us and he ended up hatching on Christmas day! Nothing like adding a little excitement to a family gathering with your own nature episode!
We have learned much through the lives of our little insect friends. Patience, gentleness, diligence to name a few. Most of all, we have learned more of a Creator who is in the business of doing miracles, both big and small!