Today we released our butterflies. We've raised them from... larvae I guess, they were just little caterpillars when they arrived.
There's a conservation project for Painted Lady butterflies going on that's been advertised on TV recently. When Jack saw the advert he just had to give it a try. So we placed and order and two weeks later we received a box containing all we needed (including 10 1cm long caterpillars) to raise a flutter of butterflies.
So, we set to. Basically the instructions were to put the little tubs somewhere where the temperature was relatively warm and didn't vary a great deal, then wait until they cocooned after 7 - 10 days. Then move them into the little netted habitat, feed them as then started to hatch, and wait another 7 - 10 days until their wings dried and then release them.
We watched eagerly as they grew, at a somewhat alarming rate, and cocooned one by one. The cocooning process was weird. We tried and tried to catch one in the process but they're crafty. We got down to checking every five minutes but as soon as we'd turn our heads they'd be all candied up.
The butterflies finally started to emerge, between them they took so long that we had to release them in two stages.
Every time we see a butterfly outside now Jack checks the color hoping to see one of ours. We have yet to actually see any Painted Ladies out and about, I suppose that's why there's a conservation effort going on, but Jack hasn't give up hope yet.