Students and Teachers at the Center utilized the month of April to “grow awareness” for autism as they grew their own butterflies and witness their amazing life cycle close-up. Butterfly metamorphosis is incredible to behold, no matter what age you are. The students learned about the four stages to a butterfly’s life cycle:

Stage 1: EGG – Female butterflies lay tiny eggs on the underside of leaves.
Stage 2: LARVA – Caterpillars are butterfly larvae that hatch from the eggs. They like to eat! They’ll grow startling amounts and shed their skin (molt) multiple times as they grow.
Stage 3: PUPA – The pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis. When the caterpillar is ready, it will molt for the last time, and this time the new skin will form the protective chrysalis shell. While the pupa seems completely inactive, inside it the caterpillar is being transformed into a butterfly.
Stage 4: ADULT – After about 10-14 days, the butterfly breaks open the chrysalis and crawls out. Its wings are wet and folded up, so it must pump fluids into the wings to expand them before it can fly. Students fed the butterflies with sugar water and watched the butterflies drink by unfurling their proboscis, which they use for sucking up the liquid, like a straw.

Students not only learned about the butterfly lifecycle, but they learned life skills by taking care of them as well. After successfully raising their butterflies to adulthood they were released once the weather was warm enough. For some it was an emotional good-bye.