Friday, June 11, 2010

anyone? anyone? *updated

can anyone identify it?look what we have now!
Last week, Tristan caught a pretty little red and black caterpillar. He put it in his bug jar...the bug jar that has housed (and killed, I'm afraid) many a ladybug, beetle and firefly. Assuming this poor caterpillar would go the way of the others, we decided to take his picture then release him but when we opened the jar he was gone. Instead we found the most interesting cocoon ever! It looked like a piece of jewelry all shiny silver and gold. Incredible!
letting him gowhat is he?
So he stayed in the jar, hanging from the lid until yesterday when he emerged a pretty little orange butterfly. When he began to look ready to move, we coaxed him out of the jar and watched him test his new wings then fly away.
ready to flyfreedom
So, now we need your help! We've tried to identify him using this neat bug guide but with no luck so far. Want to give it a shot? Think you can help us find out what kind of butterfly we had? We'd sure love to know!

*We got an answer! Through the butterflies and moths website, I contacted a Dr. Fauske of the Department of Entomology in Fargo, North Dakota (of all places) and his quick response was this-
"Your butterfly is a Variegated fritillary, /Euptoieta claudia/. Its caterpillar feeds mainly on violets, but also passion flower and flax (will accept some other plants as well) and they have multiple generations per year in the U.S. They emigrate northward every season from the southern United states and have not yet arrived in North Dakota for the season, whereas at your location they have already had time to produce a new generation."
After thanking him sincerely for helping a homeschooling mama out, he went on to recommend what he called the single best book for butterfly identification in North America, Butterflies of North America by Ken Kaufman. I'm thinking I will take his word for it -him being the expert and all. You know how I love a good book recommendation!
So, thank you, Dr. Fauske -we're off to discover the many other butterfly species in our backyard!


  1. Cool!! I won't be any help on identifying it, I'm afraid... but I'm excited you got to see it happen!

  2. OH what a great backyard science project!!! Can't help you out, but I remember doing this with my first graders and they had a beautiful cacoon too, but I'm horrible with naming any kinda creature....

  3. I don't know, Lisa...I like Joey's name! Looking forward to finding out the name of your next little creature soon:)

  4. Always wanted to do that but never followed-through. You are an exceptional mom that can actually help your son to 'make it happen'!!
    congratulations on helping a new generation of butterflies come into being!
    luv d

  5. I love it! I love that you contacted an expert and that you received a speedy response... THAT is so very cool. Way to go, mama teach!

    We'll probably do another round of butterflies once the heat dissipates sometime in late September. Caleb LOVED having the caterpillars, cocoons, and butterflies around here. (So did I.)


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