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Butterflies released into wild after school project

Science experiment concludes with setting monarchs free.

PREECEVILLE - The Preeceville Elementary School Grade 2 and Kindergarten students had an exciting experience the last several weeks. “We got to watch caterpillars change into Vanessa Cardui butterflies,” said Tonilee Lario, Grade 2 teacher.

On June 20, the school received a shipment that contained 30 caterpillars.

The project taught the students about the life cycle of butterflies, starting from an egg stage to an adult. Each stage was recorded with children having the opportunity to learn about butterflies.

They lay upon a bed of what looked like wet sawdust. It was actually their food (soy flour, plant matter, vitamins, and minerals) that they would eat till they started to pupae, or cocoon. In the wild, the eggs would be laid on hawthorn bushes, thistles, or hollyhocks.

“Soon we noticed the caterpillars trying to crawl up the sides of the container, and cling to the underside of the lid, which was covered in a paper towel,” said Tonilee Lario, the Grade 2 teacher, who then transferred the paper towels, with the precious cargo, into a screened enclosure. As if by magic, the pupas began to appear, hanging from the lid.

Out of a possible 30 caterpillars, only 13 had reached the butterfly stage and were released into the sky in front of the school.

The butterfly release that was held July 6 was a bittersweet few moments when only a few children attended the event as it was after school had been let out for the summer.