Saturday, June 18, 2011

Caterpillars Continued

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I thought blog readers might like to see the caterpillars in action. They've doubled in size in the last two days. The butterflies continue to lay eggs, and I think we'll probably bring some more caterpillars inside.



I believe that most of the caterpillars are in their final stage, prior to forming their chrysalis. I've started to notice them, just after they shed their skins, and emerge in a new form. The skins shrivel and dry almost immediately, reducing down to a tiny remnant.



I don't believe that either Robb or I ever raised caterpillars before this year. Somehow we missed out on this, in grade school. (Tadpoles are another story.)

It's fascinating, and not a lot of work. I put multiple layers of paper towels under the fennel filled vases. Every morning, I roll up the top layer, which catches most of the frass (the polite scientific term for caterpillar crap). As the caterpillars get larger, they eat more, but even now, it's easy to keep them fed. I add more fennel every couple of days.

Still no action on the two chrysalises. They've been in this stage for about two weeks. I understand that the butterflies can emerge in as few as ten days, but that this can also take months. I've added a few more dried sticks for the current crop of caterpillars to latch onto when they are ready to form their chrysalises.

Wish us luck, everyone!

6 comments:

ArtGekko said...

We have three monarch caterpillars in residence right now. I found them on Monday, and each was no longer than the diameter of a dime and as tick as cooked spaghetti. Now they're all 2" long and about the diameter of a pencil, only 5 days later. Amazing. I have found monarch caterpillars to raise nearly every summer since I was about 6. It never fails to make me feel like a kid—it's a wonderful rite of the season. :)

alittlebitofeach said...

We see the caterpillars munching on our bronze fennel all the time, but I never find any cocoons. I'm enjoying your pictures of the lil guys.

minnie said...

those caterpillars look kind of cuddly. so far I have seen a totally of like 3 butterflies on our yard. although I have at least seen quite a few bees in the salvias and lavender I planted!

Bumble said...

The first photo on this page is FANTASTIC!

And I agree with minni - those caterpillars do look cuddly :) Good job for protecting your local native pollinators!

Do you worry about your chickens outside getting at them? Is that why you brought them in?

John and Diane said...

We are watching a documentary on netflix now called Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo - kind of strange but you might enjoy it - lots of beetles and some caterpillars and the Japanese fascination with them!
-D

Msrobin said...

Don't you love it? I often enjoy caterpillars in my garden, but I never find them in the chrysalis stage. Still, I grow parsley, dill, and milkweed just to enjoy this sight! The blue flower at the start of my Heaven on Earth blog post is a double Columbine called Winky Double Blue White. Wonderful, isn't it?

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