Monday, December 14, 2009
Kindergartners discovered this morning that more butterflies emerged over the weekend. We found them exercising their wings in the rearing boxes. Peering through the plastic windows, several kindergartners counted the empty chrysalides and determined that we have 11 monarchs. Our last, the 12th, emerged successfully this morning and we discovered it drying its wings, hanging on the empty chrysalis.
Only one butterfly was observed sitting on the rotten banana we fed the butterflies on Friday in the screened terrarium. The banana looked dry. The other butterflies were resting at the top of the terrarium.
Since there are no flowers in our gardens anymore we know we can't release the butterflies to find their own food. We also think it is too cold at night for the butterflies and some days, too cold during the days. If we let them free outdoors, we don't think they could make it to Mexico. We agreed that the rotten banana was a good idea but we thought we could start feeding the butterflies red Gatorade just like the butterflies on the ISS are drinking.
All children agreed that the butterflies "need more space" so they can move their wings and fly. We agreed that we would move all the butterflies to the screened terrarium and feed them there.
In two trays, we put empty water bottle lids, each with a Gatorade-saturated pompom. It is quite colorful and may remind the butterflies of the colors of real flowers. I gently put each monarch on the pompoms and the kindergartners watched to see what happened next.
They loved it! The butterflies used their straw-like tongues (proboscis) to feed, sticking their tongues deep into the pompoms. They stayed there a long time before leaving the feeding trays. They were very hungry!