The objective of this lesson is to explore the life cycles of the painted lady butterfly.
The Painted Lady is one of the most common and widespread butterfly in the world. They are found all over North America. In our area they can be seen between March and October.
The Painted Lady Butterfly has four wings, two hind wings and two forewings, that are symmetrical in pattern and shape. The upper surface of the wing is mostly black, brown, and orange. They also have some white spots with red and blue markings. The underside of the wings are gray, with white and red markings. They have three pairs of legs. These butterflies often tuck the front pair of legs under their body, making it look as if they only have four legs. If you look closely, though, you can find all six. The male Painted Ladies have a smaller abdomen than a females.
Butterflies are insects. Like all insects they have three body parts ( head, thorax and abdomen) and six legs. Butterflies have a long tongue that they normally keep coiled up under their heads. The tongue is really a hollow tube, like a straw. When a butterfly needs to reach into the flower to drink some nectar, the tongue uncoils so the butterfly can drink the nectur.
Butterflies look like moths but they are different. Butterflies usually fly during the day, while moths fly at night . Butterflies usually rest their wings up; moths rest with their wings stretched out flat.
There are more than 15,000 different species of butterflies in the world. They can be found almost anywhere, from the coldest mountains to the hottest deserts.
Four Stages of a Painted Lady Butterfly:
| The Egg (3 to 5 days) Adult
female butterflies lay their eggs on plants that Painted Lady
caterpillars like to eat, like thistle. The eggs are the size of a pin
head, each one containing a caterpillar beginning to grow.
|| The Larva or caterpillar comes
out! (5 to 10 days) The hungry caterpillar uses its strong jaws to
munch through leaves, eating constantly and growing quickly. As it
eats, the caterpillar's skin gets tighter. Soon it sheds this tight
skin, emerging with new skin underneath. Each caterpillar changes skin
four times before it's fully grown. After three weeks, this hairy,
black and yellow caterpillar stops growing - it's almost 2 inches long!
| The chrysalis - metamorphosis
begins. (7 to 10 days) The caterpillar finds a safe place to rest.
With a silk thread that comes out of a hole just below its mouth
(spinneret), the caterpillar spins a silk pad to attach to. The
caterpillar hangs from this pad. Soon, the caterpillars' skin splits
open, from head to abdomen, revealing a shiny green case underneath -
What is happening in the chrysalis?
| The butterfly emerges! (2 weeks)
When the butterfly first emerges from the chrysalis, its wings are soft
and crumpled. The tired butterfly rests, and then slowly unfolds its
wings to dry.
After a few hours, the butterfly will be ready to fly. The Painted Lady Butterfly has a 2-week life span. During that time, its main goal is to reproduce and lay eggs so the cycle can begin again!
Parts of the Butterfly Chrysalis
Some web sites to find out more about Painted Ladies
The Butterfly Nursery
Insect Lore Products
P.O. Box 1535
Shafter, Ca. 93263
You will need to purchase a painted lady butterfly kit. The kit will contain a nursery that will need to be assembled. You will also need to send away for caterpillars. The children will be able to view these eggs for a few days. The eggs will then become caterpillars which will turn into butterflies.
Painted ladies web site http://www.earthsbirthday.org/butterflies/bflys/activitykit/index.htm
Butterfly web site http://www.milkweedcafe.com/ClubCathome.htm