Backyard Lifecycles

We {heart} our nature cubby.  Not only does the leafy roof provide shade for the dirt kitchen, but it also provides a home for many garden creatures.  The plant is a Monkey Rope Vine (Parsonsia straminea).  Monkey Rope is common around Brisbane, and it is an interesting (and fast growing) vine thanks to its adventitious roots.  These are roots which come out of the branches and stems of a plant.  Monkey Rope is also one of the host plants of the Common Australian Crow (Euploea core) butterfly.We have delighted in watching the whole lifecycle of a Common Crow unfold in our own backyard.  We have found:

  • individual eggs on leaves
  • tiny caterpillars (early instars) with little black spikes (filaments)
  • middle sized caterpillars (mid instars) with bright orange stripes and more prominent filaments
  • big, fat caterpillars (late instars) with four distinct pairs of curly black filaments
  • pale yellow chrysalis <24 hours old
  • golden shining chyrsalis
  • dark chrysalis with butterfly ready to emerge
  • empty chrysalis
  • butterfly waiting for wings to dry
  • butterflies flying around the nature cubby
  • dead butterfly

It has been such a rich learning experience for the kids.  Every few days we check the vine to see what is happening with our Common Crows.  If we find a caterpillar, we check for it again each day and watch its growth.  If we find a chrysalis (the jackpot, as far as kids are concerned) we all ooh and aah and guess how many days it will be until the butterfly emerges.  Without being too “teacherly” I have been able to talk to the kids about life, death, growth, weather, change, insects, leaves, roots, predators and other science topics.

What a wonderful opportunity, right in our own backyard.

2 thoughts on “Backyard Lifecycles

  1. What a lovely thing to share with your kids (and us!!) Miss 2 and I have only found butterflies in our back yard but I remember following the life cycle of a butterfly in my own front yard when I was a kid and I have loved butterflies ever since!

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