Monday, March 2, 2009

"Valentine" by Emily

One day last summer, Mom and Jonny were in the herb garden, when Mom spotted a large green caterpillar in the parsley. Jonny brought it to me, (Emily) and I put it into a large jar that had sticks, grass, and leaves in it, as well as several other caterpillars. To our joy, one day, the green caterpillar was gone, and there was a cocoon hanging on a twig. We were thrilled! None of the other caterpillars in the jar ever made cocoons. Time passed. Soon everybody forgot about the big jar with the cocoon in it. The leaves and grass rotted away, and whenever someone mentioned cleaning out the jar, one of us would pipe up, "no! the cocoon is in it!" while someone else would reply, "it'll never hatch." But the cocoon continued to hang, undisturbed. ...winter came, and the cocoon was forgotten.....forever...

Until February 13th, the day before Valentine's Day. I was in the school room with Ben and Jonny, teaching them school. (Mom was gone shopping in town with Dad, so I was the substitute teacher) While deep in Algebra, (just kidding!) Ben suddenly yelled, "LOOK!!! OUR BUTTERFLY!!!!!!!!" Shocked, we looked up at the long-forgotten jar, and to our joy, there calmly sitting on a twig, was a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.

For at least the next twenty minutes, Arithmetic was forgotten as we "oood" and "ahhhd" over our butterfly, snapped lots of pictures, and called Mom and Dad to exclaim the exciting news. We argued over a name for her for quite a while, as we searched through the name book, but couldn't decide on anything. Eventually, we finally got back to school, and Mom and Dad returned. When Dad mentioned something about "alcohol" we were horrified. "What!?!? Our butterfly!? But she's our butterfly!!!" Undoubtedly, our butterfly would have had this untimely fate, if it were not for a wonderful person who rescued her. =) The next day was Valentine's Day. We had Aunt Janell, Uncle Jay, and Grandma and Grandpa Housman over for a Valentine's Dinner. Of course, we couldn't wait to show them our butterfly, and Dad and Grandpa both agreed that she was going to die...but not Grandma! It was Grandma to the rescue! A day or so later, we received an email with a lot of information about feeding butterflies! So, our butterfly, whom we finally decided to name "Valentine" was rescued....thanks, Grandma!!!

About Valentine:

Valentine Joy Housman (full name) is so much fun! An extremely beautiful butterfly, she is black, with yellow spots, orange spots, blue spots, and purple spots. Valentine lives a happy life in our bay window, surrounded by Mom's potted plants. In the spring, we will let her go. Tonight, Jonny, who was "playing" with her, started shrieking as she climbed up his face and perched contentedly on his nose! It was really hilarious, as you can see in the pictures below!

Feeding Valentine:

Grandma sent us plenty of very helpful information about feeding our butterfly. Just in case any of you may ever "hatch" a butterfly, here's three tried-and-true ways:

The first way is lots of fun. Finger feeding. Make up a solution of 1:20 sugar to water. Next, dip your finger in the sugar water. Leave a drop on your finger and move it close to the butterfly's mouth. Usually it will stick out it's tongue and have a drink!

The second way is to use a cotton ball. Take a cotton ball, dip it into the sugar water, and place it on/in a small plate or container. Place the butterfly on it, and viola!

The third way is actually one that Mom thought of herself. Take an orange, cut it in half, and place the butterfly on it. Just this morning, when I peeked at her, she was sitting on the orange with her long tongue stuck in the orange.

About the Swallowtail Butterfly:

Swallowtails lay their eggs on Queen Anne's Lace, parsley, celery, and carrots. The caterpillars are bright green with black bands and yellow or orange spots. Uniquely, it has "tails" on it's hind wings, and it ranges throughout North America from Southern Canada into Mexico. The male swallowtail may guard it's territory by sailing around its boundaries for long periods. The next fact I learned from Grandma Housman, and it is: butterflies have tiny feathers on their wings, thus we have to be careful when we touch Valentine, so as not to brush any off, making her unable to fly.

If you have any questions or would like to leave a note or anything, please leave a comment! We'd love to hear from you!


Little Learners said...

AHA! THANKS for the "comment" pointer! I will let the kids keep their caterpillars all winter long from now on, but still going to do turn in the coupons for mail-order caterpillars for this spring!

Mindy said...

Unfortunately Valentine died three weeks and one day from the time she emerged. Next time we will keep the jar in a cooler spot, so she will not emerge until spring.

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