Too old for pets? Try butterflies

Jun 01, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

When we moved from Los Angeles, we decided that we didn’t want to care for animals anymore. We had done so for 35 years with a combination of one dog and several cats.

I love animals and I miss them, but it’s just too much trouble to take care of them now. Between the litter box, walking them, the vet bills, allergies, and lifting them, it’s just something I don’t wanna deal with anymore.

But still, my love for animals hasn’t changed. We sit outside on the lanai for a few hours a day watching the birds go by along with an occasional rabbit, several alligators, toads, and of course, a variety of insects and lizards.

My partner, Erika thought it might be fun to try raising butterflies. We bought a dill plant and noticed that there were a couple of caterpillars on them. Thus our insect inquiry began.

Our first venture was somewhat successful with our black swallowtail butterfly clamoring to get out of the lanai once it had dried its wings and was ready to fly.  But our second adventure wasn’t as fruitful. Our two monarch caterpillars climbed to the top of our lanai screen, but I think it got too hot and too high for them and they both collapsed onto our patio and were dead by the following morning.

So we decided to buy a butterfly kit. National Geographic had one for about $20 along with a coupon to buy the butterflies which was about another $15. The whole process has been very easy. It reminds me of the ant farm we had in grammar school, watching these little critters as they go through their evolutionary process. When you get the caterpillars, they are in a self-contained jar. You don’t have to do anything except look at them. All the food is there, along with a little covering containing small holes for ventilation.

Over the next couple of weeks, you watch as they eat incessantly, getting bigger and fatter until they eventually all climb to the top of the jar to hang. From there, they shed their exoskeleton and begin the process of metamorphosis.

In the chrysalis state, they will hang for a couple of weeks before they turn into beautiful butterflies. It’s a great lesson in the evolutionary process of nature and I can see why it appeals to so many children. Parents can easily explain the evolution of these tiny creatures. Sometimes they make it, and sometimes they don’t.

If you are looking for a hobby that doesn’t demand too much money or too much space, you might try investing in a butterfly kit. Some of our neighbours take this hobby, seriously, and have large enclosures.

But for us, having a butterfly kit is just enough. There are no vet bills messes on the carpet, or hair to vacuum. And as I age, I know that I am also a part of this evolutionary event. At some point in time, my time will be up, and I only hope that I am recycled into something else that’s as pretty as a butterfly.

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