The students of Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County, a program of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. are learning firsthand about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. The students in Miss Dawn & Miss Sarah’s class at Lemont Furnace Classroom #3 began by creating the perfect environment for butterflies to breed. Miss Dawn collected milk weeds and placed them in a butterfly garden for the students. Female monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. The student observed the eggs and when they hatched, the children watched the eggs develop into larvae or caterpillars. A monarch is only a caterpillar for 7-17 days. Monarchs spend the caterpillar stage of their lives eating and growing.
The excitement escalated when they saw so many of the caterpillars turn into “J’s” in preparation to create their chrysalis. Once the caterpillar is done growing and have reached is full length/weight, the form themselves into a pupa or a chrysalis. A monarch is a chrysalis for 8-15 days. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called ‘metamorphosis,’ to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. The butterfly’s beautiful orange and black wings appear the day before it is born. The changes that happen inside a chrysalis are like magic.
The real thrill was when the children were able to watch the beautiful butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. On September 13th, Miss Dawn invited all of the Lemont Furnace classrooms to join their class in the release of their butterflies. The children were able to hold the butterflies & get an up close look at the beauty of these insects.