The third grade science curriculum in our county starts with a module about life cycle and traits important to survival….using Monarch butterflies as an example. I signed up to assist one of the school close to where I live to have raise Monarch caterpillars in their classroom. That means helping to find eggs or caterpillars and a supply of milkweed for them to eat. School starts tomorrow and I’m as ready as I can be for my Monarch Buddy role.
I started preparing last Thursday by collecting a large caterpillar from the milkweed in front of my house. It continued eating all day Thursday and I learned how to handle the leaves and caterpillars in the large plastic cups with a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band covering the top.
The covering worked. The caterpillar climbed to the top on Friday – hung in the J shape – and made its chrysalis. It should still be in that stage when I take the 4 cups to the school on Wednesday afternoon.
On Friday, I visited the school and teacher and I looked at the small garden that has been planted several years ago. It hasn’t been maintained recently but the common milkweed and butterfly weed was doing great without any intervention. There were lots of Monarch caterpillars. We decided to leave the garden as is; the teachers will us it as an outdoor classroom for their students. We did harvest a leaf with a Monarch egg on it and I am trying to keep it moist so that they egg would hatch. It would great to have a tiny caterpillar for the children.
On Sunday morning I collected 3 caterpillars: two larger ones and a smaller caterpillar.
I hope that at least two of them will still be caterpillars on Wednesday afternoon….if not – I’ll have to look for other caterpillars on the milkweed. My goal is to have 3 caterpillars and some chrysalises. The challenge might be to find very small caterpillars!