Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raising Butterflies

Sophia, Olivia, and I found four caterpillars on my parents' carrots in their vegetable garden on July 2nd. The girls were excited to see different caterpillars than the monarchs that they've raised during past summers. These caterpillars are much bigger than monarch caterpillars.

Black Swallowtail on Branch
Black swallowtail caterpillar.
Notice the thin silk thread that it made.
It attaches to its body and the stick.

When we came home, I looked up on the internet the type of caterpillar and what the butterfly will look like. Found out they are the black swallowtail butterfly that like to eat plants in the carrot family.

Black Swallowtail Cocoon
The first butterfly had already transformed itself in two days.
Notice how it it blends in with the background.
The thin silk thread it makes prior to turning itself into a chrysallis
is on the right hand side.

Found out that the black swallowtail caterpillar will make its cocoon similar in color to its surroundings. Three of the cocoons are green and one is brown (the caterpillar chose to make a cocoon on a stick).

All of the cocoons are held in place by a very thin silk line.

Once the butterflies emerge, the pictures will be added to this post so the life cycle is shown in one place.


ropcorn said...

Wow they look so beautiful already. Can't wait to see how the butterflies will look once they have emerged from their cocoons. :-)

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teachmama said...

WOW!! How fun--talk about super-cool summertime learning at your house! Thanks for sharing, my friend!

Candace @NaturallyEducational said...

Excellent! What did you feed the caterpillars? I see you reused the Insect Lore habitat--that's what we hope to do next year!

Harvest Moon by Hand said...

Just a quick update: we're still waiting to for the butterflies to emerge. It's been about 15 days now so I would think the next stage should happen soon.

Candace - you asked what we fed them when they were caterpillars. We found them on July 2nd and later that day one was inching its way up the side of the habitat. We did have some carrot tops for them to eat. However, by July 4th all of them were in cocoons.

The caterpillars required a small amount of work/feeding! Much different than the monarch caterpillars we've raised in past years. (Though they were extraordinarily rewarding to see from caterpillar-to-butterfly!)