Some were huge and very close to building cocoons. Being the little Bug Girl that she is, SB immediately picked out a small one and exclaimed that she wanted to take it home. (I believe Chris and Martin Kratt would proudly refer to my daughter as a "creature adventurer.")
I went back across the street and got her bug container. Our neighbor cut us some parsley. We brought home our caterpillar and SB named it BaBa.
BaBa ate a lot of parsley, pooped a ridiculous amount, and doubled in size about every two days. We actually measured her and tracked her progress. It was really quite something to see!
How many caterpillars do you know who are hand fed fresh parsley every day? It was no easy feat keeping BaBa from being accidentally squashed, however.
Then one morning, I found her dead in the container. No idea why. She had been eating and growing and doing great. This was right after our cat was hit by a car. I simply could not stand to tell SB. I hid the evidence and hoped the presence of our new kitten would distract her.
When I told my neighbor what had happened, she and her husband came up with a plan. She took the bug container, placed a cocoon in and and snuck it back over. Then I presented it to SB as if it were BaBa.
I'm not a proponent of lying to my child. I believe in honesty. But I also feel there are times when hiding the truth can be in her best interest. This was one of those times. And I don't think passing off the cocoon did her any harm.
I watched that cocoon like a hawk. I was so afraid something would go wrong. After a few days, it changed colors, from vibrant green to brownish. I panicked. But then I noticed it was moving. A lot. I took this as a good sign.
The next time I walked in to the kitchen I gasped. There, in the bug container, was a brand new butterfly. Its wings were wet and limp. I cried for SB to come and see. She also gasped when she saw it. Then she yelled, "Daddy, come see! BaBa is a butterfly!"
We took the bug container outside, opened it, and sat and watched as she flapped her wings to help them dry:
She was beautiful. It was so exciting to see! We missed her actually taking flight, as it began to storm and we had to go inside. But it was such a great experience. I'm glad my neighbor had the idea to be sneaky.
Note: We think we figured out why BaBa died. The caterpillars ate all our neighbor's parsley, so I bought some at the grocery store. It was shortly thereafter that I found her dead. We believe it was likely pesticides.