Friday, July 24, 2009

Mourning Cloak Saga, Surprise!!

Yesterday while M and I were working hard on creating the Kringla tutorial, we noticed that our butterflies were hatching! We didn't expect them for at least another week, so what a surprise. Raising the Mourning Cloaks was a mixed success. If you're not up for sadness, then skip down below the first picture now.
The first butterfly had apparently emerged during the night or early morning. When they first come out of the chrysalis, they look very strange. Their bodies are overly plump and their wings are shriveled. They hang from the shell of the chrysalis, slowly swaying back and forth, and over the course of about an hour, they pump the blood into their wings to inflate them. We were not sure why, but the first butterfly was laying upside down on the bottom of the tent, still only partially inflated, but the wings had cured already. It was barely alive and shortly after we took it outside, it died.
The same thing happened with the third butterfly, but this time we saw it fall and tried to rescue it. Unfortunately, after falling, it thrashed around in the tent and broke it's wing open. Since it was still in the process of pumping the blood into them, it quickly bled out and died. There was nothing we could do, but at least we understood what happened to the first one.
From the beginning, we have tried to shield our children from an over exposure to tragedy, but not eliminate it entirely, since that isn't realistic. I am thankful we had the sense to do that. They understand sadness, and recognize that we live in a fallen, broken world that needs a Savior; but they also know that grief doesn't consume us because we do have the hope of redemption. The death of a butterfly might seem a strange place for such a discussion, but all creation groans with us, and so it is appropriate.
Here is Mourning Cloak number 2, wings almost fully cured. We always name our Monarchs, but after losing the first MC, we decided not to get that involved.

After it's wings had dried for over an hour, I carefully removed the shell of the chrysalis and gently transferred it outside to the flower bed. It hung in the shade of a Black Eyed Susan leaf for several hours before it launched itself into the sky and disappeared quickly.

I did not get any pictures of the Mourning Cloaks with their wings spread. The Monarchs always seem to move slowly and are more than happy to hang around up to a full day. They are content to walk on your arms and pose for pictures. The Mourning Cloaks on the other hand took flight almost immediately.
Overall, it was interesting to try raising a different type of butterfly, but we have decided that the Monarchs are just sturdier and more of a sure thing. The strange summer we are having is effecting the crops and the girls and I have both wondered aloud if the lack of heat might not be effecting the insects as well.

Of course, the adventure isn't complete without a stamp!


  1. I love the adventure and the stamp! :-)

  2. Taking advantage of a teachable moment -- good job, Mom. I love those opportunities.

  3. Very nice blog, thank you for the details on the shots, it will make me progress.

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