This past spring we planted a milkweed plant in our yard. We noticed a few caterpillars on it but never saw any chrysallises. Then one day, in June, my husband was leaving for work and came running back in the house, urging my 2 year-old son and I to come outside. At the bottom railing of our front stairs a butterfly was just emerging! How exciting! We sat and watched for a long time. Then we started looking around and noticed at least 10 old chrysallises that we hadn't seen before.
Now we know what to look for and my son does a twice-daily "butterfly check"-once when he leaves for preschool in the morning and when we come home in the afternoon. He loves the butterflies and is fascinated by them. We have several books that we read to him about monarchs and he can tell us the whole life cycle. We currently have 22 chrysallises and he is beside himself with excitement. I have to admit...his dad and I are too!
I am also a high school biology teacher and I took a caterpillar into my class when we were talking about the characteristics of living things. I didn't keep it in the classroom because it didn't appear to be doing well. I teach some kids with A LOT of problems and my students still ask me about my caterpillars. I give them weekly updates about the current "batch" at home.
I am so glad that we've stumbled into this hobby and I'm very happy to find this forum!