Caterpillar Time!

24 06 2009

They say raising caterpillars in a captive environment is much safer than in the wild and we got proof of that this year. Seth found two mourning cloak caterpillars in our front yard a few weeks ago. One was taken to sit in a jar next to the as yet unidentified moth caterpillar in a jar. The other was left alone. Ours immediately hung himself from the stick we provided and transformed within a day. The one outside, pictured above, hung himself under our window box for a bit and then disappeared. A meal for a lucky someone I presume.

Here’s the chrysalis after the butterfly had emerged:

And here’s the best shot I could get of the butterfly itself. He was still damp and flew away while we were gone. Click here for a pic of what his wings look like as well as the whole amazing process.

We recently stumbled upon a Monarch caterpillar. I was astounded by how much that little thing could eat and even more astounded by how much it pooped. 

Since I’m pretty sure  he’ll turn into a butterfly while we’re away we brought him to school where right before the children’s eyes he transformed into his chrysalis state. So smooth and shiny and different from the Mourning Cloak. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll wait to come out until we’re back in town.

I highly recommend raising caterpillars. Even if you don’t have children as it’s the most amazing process. Besides, the world could use a few more butterflies.

Just put a little sand in the bottom of a large jar, add a stick, cover with mesh or poke holes in the lid.  Then all you need to do is make sure to provide the leaves that caterpillar likes (usually whatever plant you found him on to begin with) and clean out the sand every few days.

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6 responses

25 06 2009
Mom and Kiddo

How wonderful. We don’t have a yard and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a caterpillar in the park. I think I can actually order them online…I always thought that seemed weird, but now I want to try!

25 06 2009
christina

Oh, thanks for a neat idea, Anna!

Kat’s fascinated with moths lately and now that her dad is on summer break, it’d be a great project for them. They also plan on doing a field guide like this one http://unschoolme.blogspot.com/2009/04/lifesized-field-guide.html

Hard to believe we’re doing preschool type stuff already — what happened to plopping her down on a blanket in the yard and hoping she didn’t eat too much clover??

25 06 2009
smoothpebble

Awesome pictures! I can’t believe we’ve never done this. What’s the time frame from caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly?

27 06 2009
painted fish studio

amazing! i haven’t seen any caterpillars this summer. maybe i just don’t know how to look.

28 06 2009
lisa

Very Cool! I agree with you, it is the most amazing experience!!!!

Lisa :)

17 07 2009
marissa

oh my gosh this is absolutely amazing to see, I feel like I’m back in kindergarten

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