Success! All five of Gunnar's "Painted Lady" caterpillars have successfully made chrysalides and hatched. The boys have named them all, (Bob, Joe, Proboscis Head, Duck, and Luke WallWalker), and firmly believe they can tell which is which.
I'll 'spot' them one... When Proboscis Head hatched from "his" chrysalis, he lost his footing and fell to the bottom of the habitat. Consequently, one of his antennae is bent, and the boys claim he has a distinctive ripple in one of his wings.
They have spent a great deal of time clustered around the habitat and have been able to observe several different behaviors. Of course, watching the butterflies feed is always fun. They're rather greedy, and will 'push' each other. Or maybe they're just more clumsy than we like to believe.
Then there are the different kinds of wing "exercises"... flapping, fluttering, and some actual flying. Apparently butterflies aren't quite able to hover, and the actual flying (in the habitat) is more like a pinball-ricochet-demolition derby event.
However, some of the vigorous attempts at flying lately may have had more significance than the boys realized. Possibly courtship related. (The boys have apparently been mistaken in referring to all the butterflies as "he".)
They came giggling to dinner tonight, poking each other, and rolling their eyes. "Mom," giggle giggle giggle, "Bob and Proboscis Head are stuck together!" More giggling and poking.
Oh really? (I checked.)
Then Gunnar piped up, "Just like the damsel flies we saw at the lake today!" Flying around, stuck together. Really.
Okay, so we haven't shared with them ALL the "facts of life" yet, but our sheltered homeschoolers have just observed reproduction twice in ONE DAY. Good grief. Good thing they weren't watching the ducks too closely...