South Elementary students have been participating in a butterfly release project the past few years using Painted Lady caterpillars and they recently released the butterflies to mark the completion of the project.
“We have been doing this project as a whole school for the past 3 or 4 years,” South kindergarten teacher Kim Depuydt said. “We purchased butterfly habitats for each classroom teacher, and that's all we needed besides the caterpillars. For the past few years, (retired long-time South secretary) Lois Warren has been funding this project and we’re very grateful for that!”
“I’m just so happy to be able to continue to be part of the fun at South!” Warren said.
When the Painted Lady caterpillars arrive, they are about one centimeter long and it takes about one week to grow before they make their chrysalis and then another week and a half to two weeks to hatch as butterflies.
“The students' excitement about the process is incredible as they walk into the classroom each morning to check for changes in the status of the butterflies,” Depuydt said. “Some classrooms journal the whole experience while others find books and videos to learn more about the life cycle of a Painted Lady butterfly.”
When the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis, the excitement grows even more. The students are always eager to help with releasing the butterflies in nature, and their amazement and wonder as they fly off into the world is a joy to witness.
In the fall, South classes often release Monarch butterflies as well if there are any remaining at the beginning of the school year. The transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly ignites students' sense of wonder as they make predictions, observe changes, and share their learning with their classmates and families.