Bunchland likes to give props to families who love helping the planet and getting down and dirty with nature. The ones who really knock our organic, pesticide-free cotton socks off get our coveted Gosh Darn Green! Award.
- CITY: Parkdale, Toronto, Ontario
- OUR BUNCH: Nici, 27, Applied Behavior Analyist Instructor therapist. Geordie (Amelie’s dad), 28, TA and research assistant at the University of Toronto. Aaron (Nici’s boyfriend), 30, Applied Behavior Analyist Instructor therapist. Amelie, 3, optimistic singer and dancer. Remus, Riddle, Smeagol, Aphro, hairless cats. Stegga Nona, fish.
Would you consider letting bugs chill out on plants in your house? What about letting them hang out a few feet away from your sleeping child’s head?
Nici’s 3-year-old daughter Amelie has never been one to be squeamish about bugs. She is enamoured with butterflies, and once let a caterpillar crawl all over her. Nici’s boyfriend Aaron, a former kindergarten teacher, recalled a project he did with his students and suggested trying it for Amelie’s birthday: witnessing the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. In the house.
The caterpillars and their food source, milkweed plants, were purchased from a small butterfly conservatory and split up between Nici’s and Geordie’s downtown Toronto homes. Amelie, completely unfazed by fat caterpillars munching leaves by her bedside all day long, said goodnight to her “baby butterflies” every night. Oh, and did we mention a caterpillar turned into a chrysalis on her bed? And that she got to release a monarch butterfly with her daycare friends?
So what did the family gain from observing this magical transformation? Says Nici:
“I believe that Amelie got a lot out of the experience because she learned how to be very gentle with small creatures and she got to see the stages of a butterfly’s life (which even I found totally amazing). I think it also helped her to accept insects, and not be afraid of them. I think what she most enjoyed was getting to set him free with all her friends. She kept saying ‘Harry’s going to Mexico!’ which I thought was awesome. We will definitely do it again.”
Watch the slideshow of Amelie’s butterfly project!
Wanna try this at home? Here are some tips from Nici.
You can buy everything you need online. “We went to the butterfly conservatory in Cambridge for Amelie’s birthday, and they actually sell monarch kits. However they were sold out when we went, but a very helpful woman told us that there was a nursery that had a very small butterfly conservatory about a five-minute drive away, and they sold milkweed plants (what they eat) and chrysalises and butterflies and caterpillars of all different sizes, it was very cool. However when we were first looked into it, we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to find everything you need online, including caterpillars.”
Watch out for caterpillar poop. “Because they are eating like mad this means that they poop a lot. There were tiny little black pebbles all under the plant. Aaron was good about being on poop duty. Amelie thought it was more funny than gross.”
Don’t worry, they won’t take over your house. “At the nursery, the girl told us that as long as we put them on the plant they wouldn’t leave their food source (I’m not kidding when I say they eat all day). There are mesh cages you can buy, but we didn’t find it necessary.”
Wait until the weather is warmer. “I don’t suggest doing it in the winter, because first off you can’t release them, and monarchs have interesting life cycles. When they are born in the season depends on their purpose and lifespan. If they are born in the earlier part of the summer, their job is to make babies and they only live around two weeks, whereas if they are born closer to the end of the summer they will live much longer so that they can do the migration. It takes four generations of butterflies to do a migration. That was the most interesting part of the whole project for me.”
Is your family so green it hurts? Maybe you guys are Gosh Darn Green! material. Email email@example.com.