This whole blog got started when students started bringing critters and interesting other natural items to class last fall. There were frogs and turtles and lots of wooly bear caterpillars. We even found that beautiful sphinx moth that laid eggs and became the basis for the Intermediate class' habitat observations.
One other caterpillar found it's way to class, but it soon also found its way out of the jar it came in! I thought it was a blacktail swallowtail, but it escaped before I got a positive I.D. on it.
I kept looking around for the caterpillar, hoping it had pupated somewhere that I could find it. I finally gave up the search thinking that it would reveal itself eventually...and it did! In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until today.
So, at lunch today when we were collecting our usual compost items for the mealworms and turtles, we asked for citrus as well. Normally we don't want citrus because it's bad for the worms. But I recalled that butterflies do like citrus, and with a little research at The Butterfly Site during today's QRT, confirmed this.
We'll take it down from the ceiling and put it in the butterfly cage along with some fruit for it to drink.
The caterpillars of this butterfly form a chrysalis in the fall and remain in this stage during the entire winter. Obviously temperature was not a factor with our hidden chrysalis, since it enjoyed nice warm temperatures inside our classroom all winter long. It would be fun to see if we can find the chrysalis from which our butterfly emerged.
The males usually emerge first in the spring, which gives them a mating advantage when the females later emerge.