They arrived on Friday. Painted Lady Butterflies ordered from Butterfly Wings n’ Wishes. We separated them and housed them with their gelatinous food in small containers.




Some were strong and burly. Others tiny and wee.


side view


I pulled out a book full of information on butterflies and moths on Tuesday and immediately sensed it was the wrong choice. A week of purposeful time off and a long weekend with Papa meant we needed an on-ramp before we could accelerate.

I grabbed the book most likely to dazzle and entice: A Butterfly Alphabet. They boggled. They gasped. They debated.


front view


Today we opened up the lids one by one, reached in with a paintbrush, delicately removing them from their small worlds. A quick sweep with the brush to remove webbing and waste, a quick photo session to allow our eyes to linger on the small details.

We had read the beginnings of an incredible book this morning: Face to Face with Caterpillars. In the true National Geographic tradition, the book dazzles and informs. The photos entice and create an immediate sense of exploration. With this exciting and intimate background, our cleaning session took on an aura of wonder.

We did this once before, 5 years ago, when they were little. Our experience was memorable. This time their minds are so much more engaged with the process, wondering at the natural processes more than the showy magic of it all.


little enclosures


Those that looked large and had a stripe along their backs were put back into their containers with an added layer of filter paper under the lids. When they’re ready, they’ll attach to it and form their chrysalis. We’ll gently remove the papers, hanging them in our empty aquarium. We’ll wait. We’ll wonder at the reshaping occurring within. We’ll greet the emerging forms with giddy excitement.




Transformations:  A mama who squints and looks for spiracles.  A mama transfixed by the difference between the thoracic legs and the abdominal prolegs.  Children who read about butterflies without assistance.  Children growing up before my eyes just like the creeping creatures on the paper.


3 thoughts on “Transformations

  1. Saille says:

    I love butterflies (and The Butterfly Alphabet) but the caterpillar book is new to me! I’ll have to go hunting for it. Do you have White Admirals up where you are? I’d only seen red before moving here, so I had a weird moment of “did I see that?” the first time one flew by, like I was looking at a photo negative. They should be out soon. Also, you might want to click on the Monarch Tagging link in my blog sidebar while you’re on the topic of butterflies.

  2. Melanie says:

    We’ve never tried that experiment before. I’m thinking we really should! I know my kiddos (especially my little caterpillar collector) would LOVE it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Anne/Navhelowife says:

    Oh I miss raising the caterpillars! We had such fun doing it. I don’t think Italy would be happy if we tried to import them here though…but we do see some beautiful ones.
    On a TOTALLY different note, do you remember a few? years ago when you looked at a picture of yourself and went “ack”? Well, of course your ack was a better expressed than mine…well, I had that same ‘revelation’ this past weekend, and thought of you and how you then *changed* how things were. So I’m changing as well…Thanks for being such a positive force in this world 🙂

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