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Raising Butterflies

Students raise butterflies from egg to adult.

Raising Butterflies

· We recommend students have a journal to keep track of the butterfly transformation.

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Butterflies are a perfect insect for students to learn about life cycles because they are able to witness caterpillars’ metamorphosis into beautiful butterflies.

A butterfly is an insect that goes through a complete metamorphism transforming from an egg into a caterpillar into a butterfly.

The butterfly life cycle is approximately 3 weeks. Females lay eggs 5 to 7 days after emerging from the chrysalis. The eggs hatch after three days. Caterpillars emerge from the eggs and eat for 10 to 12 days before forming chrysalides. Adult butterflies emerge from the chrysalides in 7 to 10 days.



· Students learn about butterfly life cycle

· Students understand concept of metamorphism



MS-LS2-3. Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems

Science assumes that objects and events in natural systems occur in consistent patterns that are understandable through measurement and observation.

(EEI) 2.2.a.,2.2.b. Cycle of Life

Students know that organisms reproduce offspring of their own kind and that the offspring resemble their parents and one another.

Students know the sequential stages of life cycles are different for different animals, such as butterflies, frogs, and mice.



· Eggs

· Glass aquarium or jar

· Milkweed

· Twigs

· Cheesecloth or screen

· Rubber band

· Butterfly cage



Order eggs in advance and start them three weeks before you plan to have full grown butterflies. Prepare glass cage and butterfly cage. To order monarch butterflies, visit http://



1. Remove the eggs from the bag and place them on a small container. Mist lightly and periodically until they hatch, about three days.

2. Prepare a container (aquarium or glass jar with screen or cheesecloth as a lid) for the caterpillars to live in.

3. Have the students go outside to gather milkweed and twigs to create the optimal environment for the caterpillars. Alternatively, place milkweed starts in the aquarium, and save them for transplant after this activity.

4. During the life of the caterpillars be sure to keep the environment clean and full of fresh milkweed.

5. The caterpillars will begin to form cocoons. Keep the cage misted and humid. Be sure that the cocoons have an adequate amount of space when they are hanging so that when they hatch their wings don’t hit the bottom.

6. A butterfly cage is recommended to keep the butterflies for a couple days for the kids to observe the colors and anatomy.

7. Take the kids out to the milkweed and send the butterflies off with good wishes!



1. What are the stages in a butterfly’s life cycle?

2. What is the transformation called?

3. How is the butterfly life cycle different than that of other insects or animals?