Episode 5: Butterflies
My sister Mary was starting to like bugs. She didn’t seem as scared of them. And her pet caterpillar was doing something strange.
I asked her, “Did you ever name your caterpillar?” She replied, “Yes, he looks like a boy bug to me, so I call him Chip. Look at his black spots. They look like round chocolate chips.”
“Great choice for a name,” I said. What’s Chip up to, these days?” Mary said, “He’s doing some strange things.” “Like what?” I asked.
“He’s on the bottom of a leaf in his cage. And there is fuzzy stuff coming out of him. Do you know what’s happening?” she asked.
I said, “I think so. He’s about to turn into a butterfly.” Mary shouted, “You’re kidding me!” I said, “No I’m not. Butterflies come from caterpillars. We studied them last year.”
I continued, “Here’s what’s happening. These cool bugs, go through four separate parts of their lives. They start as eggs. Then they grow to be caterpillars.”
“And they are really spoiled in this second part. All they do is eat, eat, and then eat, some more! Then comes the third part.”
“They spin silk so that they can stick to a leaf. That’s the fuzzy stuff that you see. Chip will hang upside down for a while. He’ll stay right there. When he’s like this, he is called a chrysalis.”
“We will have a good view of his changes. He’ll start to look different. Then one day, he’ll wake up and spread his new wings. He’ll be a beautiful butterfly.”
Mary said, “I hope that we’re there to take a photo, right when that happens. It’s going to be really special. I can hardly wait to watch. So what else did you learn about butterflies?”
I told her, “Well, I know that they came from the moth family. Some butterfly fossils are 56 million years old. They’re found all over the world. Except they’re not at the South Pole.”
“Some butterflies live only a week. Others live almost a year! And when they’re caterpillars, most of them eat plants. But a few kinds of them, actually eat other bugs!”
“When they turn into butterflies, they don’t EAT anymore. They only DRINK liquids, like nectar from flowers. They have a really long tongue. It’s called a proboscis. Is that a crazy word, or what?!”
“One more thing. Do you know what you call it when a caterpillar changes? When they become a butterfly? It’s called metamorphosis.”
Mary’s eyes got really big. She said, “That’s a very tough word. It’s way too big for me to chew on.”
She continued, “I’ll try that one, again, when I’m older.” Then we had a big laugh, together!
When Chip finally turned into a butterfly, we were right there! We got great shots on our phone. And then we let him fly free. We wished him a great life!
1) Why did Mary name her caterpillar Chip?
He had black spots that looked like chocolate chips.
He ate wood chips.
He loved potato chips.
2) What do caterpillars start out as?
3) What would Chip finally turn into?