My Butterfly Babies
As you may know already, I have a fascination with butterflies.
Their colours and patterns mesmerise me. How nature can be so detailed and intricate in its designs.
So, this year I decided to raise my own caterpillars.
I purchased a child’s butterfly kit from insect lore. The whole kit cost me fourty euro and included everything I needed to look after the insects.
The kit included five painted lady larvae which was a bonus for me as we don’t seem to have many of this particular species on the farm at all.
So, the package arrived and that was an exciting day.
For some reason I expected the caterpillars to be green but when I opened the box, I was shocked to find five of the tiniest black caterpillars I have ever seen.
They come in their own little tub which includes some sort of substance in the bottom that is their food. The caterpillars stay in this tub until they have formed a chrysalis and are ready to hatch.
So, over the following couple of weeks the caterpillars grew and done their own thing in the container.
Then they started to gravitate toward the lid of the container and started some sort of activity that for all the world looked like practicing hanging upside down for a few days before starting chrysalis.
When the caterpillars began chrysalis, it got a bit weird for my liking. I had previously maintained a basic understanding of the chrysalis process but seeing it in action was strange to say the least. After the chrysalis had hardened, I moved them to the butterfly net where they would hatch.
This was another uncomfortable stage for me as they began shaking inside the cocoon. This is a defence mechanism for them to ward off predators but to see a tray of bugs wiggling and shaking in the kitchen was a bit much for me.
But then, the butterflies emerged. Their beautiful colours and designs fluttering around rendered the previous uncomfortable steps of the process forgotten.
Four out of five of the caterpillars I received emerged into butterflies. Sadly, one of them did not complete the chrysalis stage fully and so never emerged a butterfly. But four out of five is a good turnout for a butterfly party.
After 24 hours the butterflies were released into the garden where I hope for them to populate and in time, we may see more and more painted ladies fluttering about.
All in all, it was an enjoyable experience and I think it is definitely worth it for anyone who has not tried it before and has an interest in butterflies.