Spring is nature’s way of celebrating “all things new.” It is a season where many things that have gone to sleep over the cold winter months come alive again, triggering a breath of fresh newness that encourages us visually and spiritually. One of the processes of nature that mimics this cycle of newness is the life cycle of the butterfly.
Butterflies come in around 17,000 different kinds, each kind unique in their design, colour, and size. There are 4 stages to the butterfly cycle: eggs, larva, pupa, and adult. Let’s take a closer look at these stages and then get an idea for a spring craft!
An adult (mama) butterfly starts the cycle by laying many eggs onto a leaf. She lays them close to a food source so that when they hatch they will have food nearby. Depending on the butterfly, the eggs vary in shapes and sizes.
In this stage, tiny larva, also called caterpillars, begin to bite their way out of the eggs. They first eat their egg (what’s left of it) and then move on to the leaf the eggs were on. Once they’ve eaten the one leaf, they move on to the next. They are very hungry, and for most of this stage, they will continue to eat and eat. As they eat, they grow bigger. They will outgrow their skin and shed it. As they keep growing, they grow out of their skin about 4 or 5 times altogether before they are ready for the next stage.
This stage is when the caterpillar is ready to rest. After the final shedding of skin comes the chrysalis or pupa stage. A hard layer of skin forms a shell around the caterpillar, and it will stay in this cocoon for up to 14 days.
It’s now time for the butterfly to emerge! After a few twists, the cocoon will split and the adult butterfly will wriggle itself out. Its wings are crumpled and wet at first, and the butterfly must allow them to dry and harden before it takes its first flight. Once the blood gets pumping into those wings, the butterfly goes in search of food. The adult does not eat the same things that the caterpillar did because it no longer has a mouth. It instead sucks nectar from flowers through a straw-like tube on its head. Since they have no mouth, butterflies taste with their feet!
Butterflies are found all over the world except for Antarctica and the driest parts of the world. Like bees, butterflies play an important part in nature in helping to pollinate flowers. A sign of butterflies around means that there is a healthy environment and ecosystem. Aside from pollination, butterflies and caterpillars are both food sources to other insects. Caterpillars help with pest control and eat other insects that may destroy plants. They are an important part of the ecosystem.
One of the more popular kinds of butterflies, the Monarch Butterfly, has been placed on the endangered species list. It’s important to do our part to ensure a safe environment for these small creations of God. Do some research on how you can help the butterflies in your own backyard!
Make your own butterfly!
Homeschool moms are often looking for ideas for spring crafts! Here is a great way to tie your learning into your arts and crafts time.
*Print your template*
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Print-outs of the templates
- Glue or double-sided tape
- Things for colouring (if using the blank templates): paint, markers, coloured pencils, crayons, and anything else you want to use to decorate your butterfly
Here’s how to make it:
- Print your templates.
- If you choose the monarch butterfly template, print two copies. Cut them out and glue or tape the opposite sides together so you’ve got double-sided wings.
- If you choose to decorate your own butterfly, print two copies. Cut them out and glue or tape the opposite sides together and then decorate both sides. If you use paint, be sure to let them dry before moving on to the next step!
- Create the butterfly body. Print out your butterfly body. Cut it out and colour it in with whatever you like. Add a cute face! You only need to colour the one side as you will be gluing or taping the wings on the inside. Carefully fold down the middle to fold it in half.
- Add the wings. Glue or tape your wings to the inside of the body. Apply glue or tape, attach your wings, and allow to dry completely (if you used glue).
Once dry, you’ll be able to flap your butterfly’s wings and help them fly around the house! How many will you make?
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our themes page that has a new theme topic added every month!