Deb Buchner

Langley library bookworms eagerly wanting larvae grow

Painted lady larvae are growing at Langley City’s library branch.

Bugs are usually unwelcome guests in libraries where they cause damage to books but the Langley City public library is a temporary home to some soon-to-be butterflies.

The library is nursing caterpillars which will become painted lady butterflies and will be released in Douglas Park June 24.

Deb Buchner, the circulation supervisor, said the is one of a handful of local libraries that have done the butterfly project and it’s garnering a lot of interest.

The tiny crawlers, 36 in all, were introduced to the community at a packed event June 3 at which 90 kids and adults learned about their lifecycles.

Kim Sutton owns FlutterBuys butterfly release business in Langley which supplied the larvae. She said given the controlled conditions, 32 to 36 are expected to survive and turn into butterflies. That’s very different than in nature.

“In the wild it’s one per cent from egg to adult butterfly,” she explained.

The caterpillars are kept in containers at the front counter where the public is stopping by to see their progress.

The bugs arrived at the library about a week old. They will be caterpillars for up to two weeks before they start hanging in a J-shape. That signals that they are going into their next phase of life – the chrysalis.

That’s when they are transforming into butterflies.

This stage, depending on room temperature, will take eight to 14 days.

About 24 hours before the butterflies emerge, the chysalides will turn black.

The butterflies will emerge and hang upside down to dry their wings.

Kids can sign up for the June 24 event when the painted ladies will be released in Douglas Park.

The butterflies have a lifespan of about two weeks.

Call the library at 604-514-2850 to book for the release.

Sutton sells butterfly larvae all over B.C. and much of Alberta, limited by shipping live insects. Her business is a flurry of activity for a short period, the butterfly’s busy season.

“We do about 4,000 larvae a week, probably for eight weeks,” she said.

Pretty much every culture has myths, stories and poems about butterflies, unlike other insects.

“I guess they’re kind of magical,” she said. “I’ve heard them called flying flowers. There’s something that really catches people. There’s something about the beauty and the mystery of the butterfly.”

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