From Caterpillar to Butterfly!

From Caterpillar to Butterfly lesson

Cooper has been a bit obsessed with bugs lately. Strangely, our house seems to be dead ladybug central. The ladybugs love to hang out on our ceiling fans and they especially love our windowsills. A few weeks ago I caught Cooper carrying around a (dead) ladybug, cradling it in his hands and telling it stories. He loves to look at worms, butterflies, spiders – pretty much anything that creeps me out.

I’m always on the hunt for fun ways to incorporate education into our lives, and I think I came up with a fun way to teach your children about caterpillars and butterflies! This will include discussions about caterpillars, butterflies, and the process of metamorphosis.

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

First I started with the book From Caterpillar to Butterfly ($3.84 on Amazon). This is a very easy to read and understand book that describes the the journey that a caterpillar takes to become a butterfly. It details the life cycle of caterpillar to butterfly in easy to understand terms and illustrations. After a few reads, my 4 year old understood the concept of metamorphosis and the term chrysalis.

Cooper was really interested in the actual process that the caterpillar underwent when becoming a butterfly, so I did some research on how I could illustrate that from him. I found the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden and after reading its great reviews, ordered it immediately.

Insect Lore Live Butterfly GardenIt was $13.00 when I ordered it, and the price has went up to $17.00. However, I think it is worth every penny! You will receive a butterfly habitat, instructions for care, and a mail in voucher for butterfly larvae. Once you receive your garden, you simply go to the website included on your voucher and order the larvae. You do have to pay a $5.00 shipping fee. The larvae are shipped to you in a little cup that includes food.

Once you receive the larvae (caterpillars), you put the cup in a cool and dark place. Within a few days, the caterpillars will begin to form their chrysalides. They will attach themselves to the top of the cup and the shells will harden. You wait 2-3 days and then transfer the chrysalides to the butterfly habitat. The day after we transferred, our first butterfly emerged!

You feed the butterflies sugar water, oranges, or watermelon. You can keep them for up to a week and then you release them outside.


The red you see in the bottom left picture isn’t blood. (I thought it was too!) It is meconium, and it happens as the butterflies emerge from their chrysalides.

A few tips:

  • Order the larvae at a time you know you will be home. They come through the USPS and are sensitive to temperature. Don’t let it sit in your mailbox for hours and definitely don’t order it if you know you will be out of town for a few days.
  • Our cup contained 5 caterpillars, and all five became butterflies.
  • Once they form their chrysalides, you will see what is called silk frass on the outside of the chrysalides. Gently remove as much of that as possible. The butterfly’s wing may be deformed if you don’t perform this step. We missed some on one chrysalides, and that butterfly had trouble flying.
  • You feed the butterflies oranges, watermelon, or sugar water. I put a flower inside the habit and sprinkled some sugar water on it once a day.

If you have any questions please let me know!

This is a great time-lapse video that shows the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly.

 This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase these products through the link provided, I receive a small percentage of the sale. 

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