Biologists release butterflies

Biologists release butterflies

The Third Form has been observing the growth of caterpillars of the Painted Lady butterfly in Biology this term. They have been measuring them in lessons, recording their measurements both in spreadsheets and in hand-drawn results tables.

The caterpillars arrived in specially designed clear pots, which contained plenty of food  (a solid medium with glucose in it) and air holes in the lids to allow lots of air to circulate in the pots. The caterpillars measured about 10mm to start with and by the second week, they were measuring 47mm – a whopping 370% growth spurt!

As well as measuring their growth, the Third Form also observed the caterpillars and drew them; developing their biological drawing skills just as the famous naturalist and Old Cheltonian, Edward Wilson, did at College before later joining Scott on his Antartic expeditions.

During the third week, the caterpillars climbed to the tops of the pots and spun a silk disc in order to attach themselves to the paper disc which lines the lids. At this stage, we did not disturb them as they started to pupate and form a chrysalis. The chrysalises were transferred, attached to the paper discs, to large pop-up butterfly enclosures. By the end of the week, the butterflies were starting to emerge and fruit, brambles, and nettles leaves were provided for them to feed on. It was now time to set them free!

Mrs Ramsay and Mrs Aitken’s classes were lucky enough to have a lesson on the day of release. It was a sunny, dry day - perfect conditions for a butterfly release. The butterflies were taken to the overgrown, natural woodland area at the edge of Southwood lawn. Each pupil was carefully handed a butterfly to gently release into the woods, but as you can see from the photos, it took a while for them to fly off!

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