We watched those caterpillars for weeks continue to grow bigger and to enclose themselves into their chrysalides. This week we had our butterflies emerge from their chrysalides, and as soon as their wings were dried off, we took them outside to release them.
(Side story: One of our butterflies had actually gone belly up at one point today, and I had to have the conversation with my students that he didn't make it because I, of course, didn't notice that it was belly up until I let my students go look at the butterflies. I decided that in order to keep the others alive until we could release them later today that I would put a piece of a peach that I had in there with them. I placed the peach in their netting and that butterfly flipped itself over and began walking around and went straight to the piece of peach, which made my class cheer. It was like witnessing a resurrection. I realized at that very moment that the poor butterfly was probably near death due to starvation. Moral of the story, put fruit in the netting BEFORE the butterflies emerge from their chrysalides. Whoops!)
We did notice that one of the butterflies had lost one of it's back wings when emerging from it's chrysalis, so it was unable to fly properly. I found a nice spot near our school with lots of flowers to place it, in hopes that it will continue to live. Fingers crossed!
One of the other butterflies didn't want to leave us. He landed on me for awhile and then on a student's brightly colored shoe. My class loved getting up close looks at these beautiful creatures.
At the end of the day, all five butterflies had been released into the wild, hopefully to live and thrive on their own.