The mama a-go-go received a jar of caterpillars from the nephew a-go-go for her birthday. Five prickly critters in various shades of brown inched their way up the sides of the cup and into a chrysalis. The jar sat on her bureau in the bedroom for a week or so and one morning I heard her cry "Oh! butterfly"!
There it was, hanging from the top of the lid, its wings unfolded and gently fanning itself dry. We placed the whole beautiful jar outside in the shade with a mesh covering to make sure each painted lady could emerge as graceful as possible.
Three flew away and two emerged crumpled. Their wings never appeared to fully unfold. One of those two disappeared and the other crawled around a little too close to the bird feeder. Having read that sugar water was something to feed them, I gently coaxed the crumpled girl onto my hand and carried her to the butterfly bush where she immediately began to drink.
Be still my beating heart. It was stunning.