You’ve probably never thought about having butterflies as pets, but they really can make a great first pet for your kids to try. With the ever increasing urban sprawl, butterflies, like many other animals are decreasing in number as they lose their natural habitat.
Because they have a short life span of only a few weeks, it’s great practice for a more permanent pet.
Releasing them back to the wild let’s your children understand and feel good about the conservation of these delicate insects. It also may help when they may have to say goodbye to another pet in the future.
Before you get started. take a trip to the library and check out a few books on identifying butterflies, the best time of year to start in your area, and a list of things you will need to house and feed your new pet. There are also many online sources with the information you’ll need.
To start, you can either take a hike and find some butterfly eggs to bring home or purchase a butterfly kit.
I suggest getting the kit, because you might not be able to properly identify butterfly eggs and it could be a fiasco if you bring home eggs belonging to something you wouldn’t want in your house.
The kits come with hanging net habitats with zippers for easy use, caterpillars so that you don’t have to worry about delicate eggs, and instructions you’ll needed to properly care for your new pets.
Your kids will learn about the life cycle of butterflies as they watch their caterpillars spin themselves into the chrysalis stage. They’ll need to pay close attention because it only takes 2 or 3 minutes to be totally encased.
It’s important that they do not touch or disturb them during this process. You do not need to do anything while they are in this stage.
A day or two before they are ready to emerge the chrysalis while turn a darker color and you might be able to see the color of their wings through the chrysalis.
You and your kids will be fascinated when the chrysalis case begins to crack and in a few short minutes a beautiful butterfly emerges.
It’s delicate little wings will be small and crumpled, but they quickly expand to full size and harden. Now they are able to fly. You can let your kids place a finger near it to see if it will crawl on, but that should be the extent of their interaction.
It’s okay to let your kids spend a short time with the butterfly, but no more than a few hours. It may be a little sad to let them fly away, but who knows, maybe they’ll stick around in your yard if you have some tasty plants and flowers.