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Teaching About Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Students love watching the process of a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and then hatching as a butterfly!   It is a fascinating process to watch!  

I usually order my butterfly larva from Carolina Biological Supply Company.  The ship the critters quickly and will let you know if the species you order can be released in your area.  (We do not want to release an invasive species).

Even young children can observe and record their observations.  We begin our observations while the insects are in their larva stage. This is a painted lady butterfly caterpillar or larva.

The caterpillars will feed on the food they come with and they will molt several times while they are growing.  
The students can record their daily observations in a butterfly observation book 
Soon the larva climb to the top of the jar and hang upside down in a J shape.  
This means the larva is about to shed for the last time.  A chrysalis will be revealed with the last molt. 
When the larva have all changed into the chrysalises, they cloth covering the top of the container can be removed and attached inside the habitat. 
The chrysalis will hatch in about 7-10 days and a painted lady adult butterfly will emerge.   The insect will need several hours to un wrinkle and dry their wings. 
If painted lady butterflies are native to your area, you can release them and they will do just fine.  Make sure it is a moderately warm day.
I like to have Kindergarten and other young students practice the concepts surrounding life cycle of a butterfly with centers.  
These centers can be purchased as a bundle or individually.
 For the older students studying butterflies, I like to use a CLOSE reading activity along with a nonfiction article on the life cycle of a butterfly. 
Butterflies are also excellent pollinators.  You can read more about butterflies and how important they are to pollination in my blog post Citizen Science and Monarch Butterflies
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