Second grade students at Starline Elementary School opened their mesh butterfly cages and released painted lady butterflies Friday after following their life cycle for the past couple weeks.

“I’m so excited,” said one girl in Marie Kervin’s class as the class was preparing to go into the school’s courtyard for the release.

Kervin’s class gathered first in the courtyard and then students from Lori Felish’s and Amy Romm’s second grade classes joined in. When they were all together, the students formed a circle and the teachers called a few students forward to unzip the mesh cages in order release the 16 butterflies.

Most of the painted lady butterflies with their orange, black and white markings left their round cages quickly, but some hung on and had to be coaxed out by the curious second graders.

A few of the butterflies hopped onto the large tree in the courtyard. At least one student reported seeing a bird eat one of the butterflies.

Collectively asked whether they were sad to see the butterflies go, all but one student shouted yes. But they told their teacher that they understood that the butterflies couldn’t survive in captivity and releasing them was necessary.

The second grade classes saw part of the life cycle the past two weeks with caterpillars first. Then they saw the butterflies spin a chrysalis at the top of the mesh cage before eating their way through and becoming the butterflies that were released Friday.

Kailey Denison, 7, from Kervin’s class, was happy to say exactly what she learned after watching the six painted ladies that her class had watched over fly away.

“When they hatch out of their egg, they turn into little caterpillars,” Denison said. “Then, they wrap themselves into a chrysalis and then they turn into butterflies.”

“And they have scales on their wings,” Kervin said and Denison repeated.

The butterflies had to be released Friday because the students are on fall break next week and the butterflies wouldn’t survive in the cages that long, Kervin said.

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