Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Butterflies: E.F.G.H

Continuing with our mission of collecting and hatching 26 butterflies before Mallory graduates from Elementary school, we put our hunt on when summer vacation hit. The cooler spring made us wonder if the butterflies would be delayed in making their way up to Minnesota this summer.  Our predictions were right it was a bit later and the quantity seemed a bit smaller as well, making it tougher to find our eggs than the previous year.  We went on several egg hunts until we found a few leaves that looked promising.

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Day by day and week by week, we had five little caterpillars hatch.  We lost just one along the way but four made it from start to finish.  It took each one about 4 weeks from the egg hatching to the butterfly emerging.  These caterpillars are all from leaves in our neighbor’s patch of milkweed.  They took a vacation to Sandy Lake where a few hatched and munched on Zimmerman milkweed, each one ended up opening into butterflies right here at home.

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Below is one of my favorite pictures.  It shows the four later stages of development.  A caterpillar in its “J” formation before it envelopes into a chrysalis.  Then 2 chrysalises already formed and our first newly hatched butterfly.

The black chrysalis below is just a few hours from emerging into a butterfly.  The green one on the left is about a week out.

Each egg is as tiny as the next and the process of finding them before they are devoured by ants take patience and a lot of searching, we decided the first butterfly, holding an “E”, name should be called “Elusive”.  Mallory released this butterfly by some of our neighbors flowers.  She stayed on the flower for almost five minutes letting us inspect her wings and beauty.  Just when I was starting to get a little worried, she fluttered off and landed in a nearby tree to soak up the sun.

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Mallory knew she wanted the “F” butterfly to be called Fluttershy.  We altered it a bit when we found out that he was our first boy (so proud!) and also he was anything but shy.
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He was rearing to take flight and wanted nothing to do with being held with his wings together.  We quickly changed his name to “FlutterFly”.  Julia was over for this release and it was Mikayla’s turn to let him go.  We only made it out on the deck to the pot of flowers and as soon as Mikayla opened up to set him down, he took off.  He was quick.

God’s Grace has a hand in this incredible process.  I know science explains parts here and there, but having seen with my own eyes the very very tiny egg and even smaller caterpillar that emerges, we are certain God had a role somewhere along the way.  This is why we chose Grace for our “G” butterfly.  She emerged on Saturday afternoon, and with the weather forecast calling for sun and warmth on Sunday morning we waited to release her until the next day.  Fittingly, Grace would take flight on Sunday.  Sounds like there should be violins and an organ playing in the background, right?  Wrong. 

This release went south from the minute the girls remembered we’d be letting her go.  “I want to hold the butterfly FIRST!”  “It’s MY turn to let her go!” “You get to do the next butterfly unless it dies first.”  “I WANT TO UNZIP THE TOP!”  Seriously.  It was all sorts of ugly.  If I would have been two seconds faster with my camera I would have captured a screaming catfight instead of a beautiful butterfly release.  With the chaos that surrounded us, the adults quickly said that this butterfly was going into the world untouched.  No one would hold her, no one would release her.  We (together, with smiles?? Yeah.right) opened the zipper on our butterfly tent and let her crawl to the top and take flight.  She didn’t stay in the open air long before she fluttered off. She made one swoop in a circle close to us and then retreated to the nearest tree.  I am sure she was relieved one of my beauties didn’t rip her wings off in the battle that took place moments before.  This is a lesson in that pictures could very well lie—but not this mom.  I am as honest as they come that this life we have, even in a beautiful butterfly release, we are far from perfect. 
Let the readers know the date of this release was August 18th-Labor Day awaits in just 2 short weeks and we are a little anxious and oh-so-ready to get on with the back to school show.

And finally our “H” butterfly emerged.  She was as beautiful as the others and was ready to take flight on a warm night right before bedtime.  It was Mikayla’s turn to name and release this butterfly.  She doesn’t quite understand the need for an “H” name so I had to give her choices.  Thankfully Debbie gave me a pocketful of names and when I uttered ideas such as Happiness, Helen, Hannah, she shook her head “No”.  So I gave her a few more…thinking on the spot, but only remembering the boy names I was given from Debbie I sputtered how how about Henry or Harvey…

Meet “Harvey”
She chose a deck release and wanted to unzip the top and watch her fly away.  She held Harvey inside, but chose to let her go on Harvey’s own time. She fluttered around the deck for a few minutes and then was off… 

Four butterflies and nearly 6 weeks later our mission for 2013 is complete.  We carry on and hope that next year we will see the same success that we have this year!  Here is our first year (2012) with the hatching of A,B,C,D.

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