Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010 Day 52 11 butterflies return!

Eleven living butterflies have returned from winter break at my home and have re-adjusted to life in the kindergarten classroom. The body of our 12th butterfly is pressed under glass next to the STS-129 Atlantis mission patch. Today, our Monarchs are 25 days old as adult butterflies (most eclosed on December 10).

I am am very surprised at their longevity in captivity; it is a wonder to me (never having raised butterflies over the winter on artificial diet) that they are still living.

Classroom temperatures during the day are warmer than the temperatures at my home but during the night, possibly cooler. Butterflies will be encouraged to feed during the warmer, daylight hours. Natural light and artificial light is about the same.

When the butterflies' Gatorade is freshened (every other day) the butterflies chosen at random and placed by hand on the sponges, do not stay very long to feed when they are on the hanging platform. Butterflies chosen at random and hand-placed on the feeding tray at the bottom of the terrarium seem to stay longer to feed.

Overall, I believe I've seen greater interest (on the part of the butterflies) in the Gatorade-soaked pompoms set-up in which each pompom was placed in a plastic water bottle lid and then lined up in a take-out sushi tray. We hand-placed the butterflies on the pompoms in the same manner as we are doing in the current set-up with the sponges and feeding platforms and observed butterflies active and feeding for longer periods of time.

The students really enjoyed soaking each pompom with an eye dropper and setting up the feeding trays independently. We all learned how to hand-place the butterflies onto the pompoms, a task 5 year-olds can fulfill with utmost care. We think the pompoms are very colorful and that the butterflies may be attracted to them like they are to flowers.

While differences in observations between feeding observed on the sponges and the pompoms could be due to other factors (such as biology, temperature, time of day, etc.), I plan to buy more pompoms so we can set-up Gatorade-soaked pompoms on both the tray on the floor of the terrarium as well as on the hanging platform.