Friday, June 12, 2009

Painted Lady Release

Two weeks ago we went to Columbus to visit family and the Franklin Park Conservatory. We love this place, and visit at least once a year when they have the butterfly exhibit. We always bring back Painted Lady caterpillars to raise and release. We got them nice and small this time so we could watch them grow longer, one for each kid. Kane's changed into its chrysalis one day when we were occupied with friends here for lunch. We saw it in its J formation in the morning and then forgot to check until that evening. Bella's went into a J the evening before I was going to drive to Mom's and Dad's to pick Bella and Kane up from a visit. I watched and waited, determined to get pictures of its transformation since they would miss it. The next morning it was still in a J, so I stuck it in the car so the kids could watch it. An hour later, I pulled up to my parent's house and found a fully formed chrysalis. Sneaky little caterpillar... So, even though we didn't get to watch either transform, we prepared a big butterfly house from a cardboard box and plastic wrap and stuck the chrysalises to the top. Max's caterpillar is still munching away at its ground nettle - it was really tiny when we got it. But today we came home from leading the local La Leche League meeting to find a wonderful Painted Lady butterfly hanging from his chrysalis. I say HIS because, well, he was Kane's butterfly, and therefore he was named "BOY." Kane has a fascination of late with calling everyone "boy" and "girl," including me... So this evening we released Boy near our flower bed. We opened up the box and as soon as he felt the air he opened his wings.

Kane reached down into the box and gently picked Boy up to bring him out into the soft breeze.

He hung out for a few seconds, then took off. Of course, in the madness of three excited kids and friends over I missed that shot. But after a short loop out into the yard, he came back to hang out on our mulberry tree for awhile to get used to those new wings.

A quick transition to the top of the leaves, and then Boy was off into the wide world. I'm sure we'll speculate for days where he is and what he's doing.

What a wonderful process it all is, and what a joy to be able to be a part of it. There is something about letting that butterfly out into its natural environment that I love. It's a good feeling to know that because of us, there is one more beautiful butterfly out there filling its niche in the world. I've done it with turtles, frogs, snakes, birds, squirrels and one amazing red-tailed hawk, and it never gets old. It makes me feel peaceful and complete to know I'm doing my small part in taking care of a world that we are meant to be the stewards of, and teaching my kids to feel the same.