caterpillar club

We’re raising caterpillars we found on the parsley in the garden. We did the same two years ago. It’s fascinating to watch them grow and change, molting as they get larger.

We use a large fish tank to house them, and a piece of window screen with an elastic band to top the tank. To keep their parsley fresh, we use a small plastic container with holes in the lid. We filled the container with potting soil, soaked with water.

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The parsley is pushed into the holes in the container lid. The water keeps it fresh and the dirt helps to hold it upright.

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All the holes are filled with parsley. It’s amazing how quickly the caterpillars will eat everything put out for them.

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In the tank, there is also a small vase with parsley. This is the “nursery” where we keep eggs and newly hatched caterpillars as they are too small to put with the larger ones. The larger caterpillars are becoming so voracious they might eat the parsley right out from under the tiny ones.

the nursery

If you look closely, you will also see the sticks we put into the tank for chrysalis formation.

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Newspaper lining the bottom makes cleanup easy. The caterpillars are eating and pooping machines. The only other things they do are rest and molt. 🙂 Here’s a video I took of one of our caterpillars eating a parsley leaf. In real time. I didn’t speed it up! Click here.

We now have ten chrysalises and another caterpillar will be a chrysalis by tomorrow. Two others have failed to develop properly. DH brought more parsley in this AM and found two newly hatched caterpillars on one stem. They are so tiny! We put them in the nursery vase and will keep an eye on them.

Because it is late in the season, the butterflies may not emerge until next April or May. We shall see!


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  1. […] found that a butterfly had just emerged from a chrysalis. It had overwintered under the carport in the fish tank we use to raise caterpillars. The tank had been left outdoors during the winter so the chrysalis wouldn’t open before the […]

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