Monday, June 10, 2013

Butterfly (or MOTH) Life Cycle: Day 1

Yesterday, Hubby and I took the kids over to my parents' house to swim.  My Mom was out of town, so we sat around the pool, watch the kids swim, and spoke to my Dad.  He mentioned he had some caterpillars for us.  These caterpillars had eaten almost a whole tomato plant!  He said he saved three of them then killed the rest.  Nasty little garden culprits!

This will be the third time we've watched the butterfly life cycle.  Dad gave us three: two great big ones and one small.  Last time we had Blue Swallowtails, which were absolutely gorgeous.  These guys look like they may be Swallowtails too, but we've yet to see how they attach to branches.  Swallowtails hang upside down from branches by two strings. 

Taking care of caterpillars is so easy.  All you need is a big jar.  Put paper towels on the bottom, because their voracious eating habits make these guys poop a lot, and you don't want it gathering at the bottom because it can cause mold.  Clean out the paper towel and replace with a new one about once a day. 

Find their food of choice.  Most caterpillars will live off of parsley, dill, tomato plants.  If you know what type of caterpillar they are, then you can research online and figure out what they like to eat.  Watch them eat themselves silly and turn into mega-caterpillars.  Then watch them turn into a chrysalis.  Swallowtails stay in their chrysalis for an average of 9 days.  When they're in the Chrysalis you can clean out the remaining plant matter left in the jar, just be careful not to knock them off their branches.  Butterflies need sticks to stand on to dry their wings on when they emerge. 

**After doing a little bit more internet research, I'm pretty sure these guys are tomato hornworms.  They will probably turn into moths.  I'm not exactly sure how they cocoon or turn into a chrysalis, so I guess we'll just be surprised! 

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