Our little science experiment to study the lifecycle of a butterfly has come to an end. I actually lost count but I think it was about thirteen butterflies that we released into our garden (to lay their eggs on what remains of my nasturtiums no doubt!)
I had a lovely image in my mind of opening up the net cage and watching a cloud of white winged miracles fluttering magically off into a perfect summer day. This did not happen. The butterflies emerged from their pupae in ones and twos over the course of a week and we set them free as soon as they were able to fly.
I also imagined that I would be there to witness the moment that the brand new butterfly breaks free from its prison and stretches its wings for the first time. No. They are sneaky little beggars - deliberately waiting until you are not looking and for all I know using teleportation to complete their transformation.
I missed one by what must have been minutes. It was a bedraggled specimen when I first noticed it, but before long the wings had opened up to their full glory.
We took lots of photographs and my daughter loved having a butterfly on her finger.
It has been quite a journey from the first caterpillar hunt, overcoming the revulsion, fearing that I had killed them, realising that I hadn't, watching them pupate and waiting, waiting, waiting for that final metamorphosis to be revealed.
Every butterfly we see now my little girl delightedly exclaims Look, mummy! It's one of our butterflies.
My favourite moment of the whole experience was when my grown up daughter, Ivy, decided to photo bomb my attempt to capture the fragile new creature hanging from its ghostly shell of a pupae. This was the result.
I will miss our strange houseguests... but not the smell of cabbage!