Thank you Rebecca for submitting your wonderful story.
Submitted on 27 Aug 2001 by email

Lauren the butterfly

The Becka June Series
Written by Rebecca Zarrinnegar

My name is Lauren, and I am a butterfly. Oh, I didn't start out that way at all! I began as a baby caterpillar. First I was an egg, and after about 10 days I hatched! I was a baby caterpillar! Did you know I will change five different times in my life?! Each time I grow bigger and bigger, I will grow out of my skin! When I was a caterpillar I loved to crawl up the rough tree bark and find some tasty leaves and Chew! Chew! Chew!

When caterpillars have outgrown a few skins and are much bigger, they find a cozy warm place underneath a sturdy branch. First they make a little silk pad to hang upside down from, then the Mourning Cloak caterpillar sheds it's skin one last time, and within a few hours their skin hardens around it's self. Isn't that a crazy thing ?! Inside of the warm chrysalis, they transform into something magical ! In around two weeks, they grow up into a butterfly! Different caterpillars do it differently, some of them spin their chrysalis, but I do not.

The kind of butterfly I am is a mourning cloak. I have blackish purple wings with blue spots down both sides, I also have a yellow fringe at the tops of my wings. When I grow older it turns to white. I am quite beautiful, if I do say so myself. I am one of the most loved butterflies in the world today. I would have to tell you there are two other butterflies that are more loved than I. My cousins, The Monarch butterfly, who has the most beautiful orange sunset wings with black markings and the most beautiful white moon spots on them, and the other butterfly is The Yellow Swallowtail. She is very elegant and beautiful too. She has bright yellow wings, with long black stripes down her wings. There are millions of butterflies in the world, some are very, very large and some are very tiny. There are no butterflies that harm you, that I know of. But there are caterpillars that can hurt you. Some of my cousin caterpillars have great long hairs on their backs, if you touch one of these hairs, or get pricked by one, your hand may itch and burn, if you are allergic to their sting, you can get very sick! So please never pick these up if you see them! When I am in my caterpillar form, I am black with red spots on me. I have a spiky back, but my spikes won't hurt you. I also have teensy tiny white speckles too.

I love to hide underneath picnic tables, and on twigs, leaves, trees and fences. When I am a butterfly, I love to eat rotting fruit and sip sap from newly cut trees.

Do you want to know what happened to me? One day when I was a fat little caterpillar, a little girl ran up and caught me in her little hand. Her hand was warm on my soft, thick caterpillar feet. She held me up to her giant eye and smiled at me. I liked her right away. She put me in a jar, and at first I was scared. I am helpless to humans and animals, I have nothing I can defend myself with except for my fast little feet!

She put lots of leaves into my jar, and some sticks too. She even remembered to put droplets of water for me to drink from in a tiny bottle cap. For the first few days I crawled around and ate as much as I wanted. My girl didn't know it, but I was getting ready to make my cocoon! My girl looked at me one day and she began to call me Lauren. I think that was her name too, because I heard bigger humans calling that name sometimes and they weren't talking to me! I began to spin my chrysalis. My girl would put her giant eye up to me and coo to me softly. I was excited, soon I would be a butterfly! Later that day, I was done with my chrysalis. It has a thick shell with little spiky things where my caterpillar feet used to be. I was hoping my girl would know what I was doing, so she would be careful not to shake me up or turn me up sidedown. I am glad she knew to put sticks in my jar because if you don't put sticks or something for me to make my chrysalis on, I will make it on the bottom of the jar, and I will die when I hatch out, my wings will stick to the bottom.

I was nestled all warm in my chrysalis and I could hear my girl talking to another girl. They were excited, I found out why a few minutes later! I was hatching! I wiggled and wiggled and wiggled! Left, then right, right then left! Soon, my head came out, then slowly my wings began to emerge. At first they are closed together. While I am hatching some of the magic liquid comes out that helped me become a butterfly. It's red and gooey. Don't be scared of this, it doesn't hurt me, though it looks pretty icky. I slowly climbed up my stick and I hung upsidown. This is a good way to help my wings get dry. As soon as my wings get dry, they will open up beautifully! Make sure you never touch a butterflies wings when they are wet or when they are dry, you can take off the magic powder that helps me to fly and I wouldn't live very long. If I had made my chrysalis on the bottom of the jar, my wings would have stuck to the magic liquid, and I would have died.

My little girl took me to another room. I rode safely on my twig, I didn't move much. Later that day, my wings were completely dried. My little girl opened the lid to my jar and I flew out! How good it felt to flutter my beautiful wings! It felt good to soar freely. I missed the wind and the sunshine. I wanted to be outside. Something was making me want to fly to the ceiling, so I did. Up there I found the most delightful nectar. My girl had hung it from the ceiling in her room. I floated around and suckled until my belly was full. I fluttered down to her pointed finger, therefore claiming, that we would always be friends forever. This is a sacred butterflies legend.

I trusted my girl. That day she took me outside on her finger and I fluttered away, happily in the warm spring sunshine. I come back and visit her some mornings. My girl doesn't know it yet, but I have just laid some eggs on a nearby plant. They will hatch into tiny caterpillars soon, and then will become butterflies like me. I plan on telling them of my journey and of my girl. My girl will always have Mourning Cloaks fluttering around in her garden, and I wonder, will she know they are my daughters? I know they will be well fed and lucky to have my girl. Remember if you decide to catch me or one of my cousins crawling on a branch or elsewhere, remember, never put me in the direct sunshine, always poke holes in my lid, always put leaves and sticks in my new home, never shake me or drop me! If I make my chrysalis , make sure you do not touch me until I am all the way dry and let me go within a day so I will be free. And never forget to point your finger towards me when you see me fly by, for this is a sacred butterfly legend, we will always be friends.

Lauren the butterfly