We have caterpillars in the butterfly garden of course, that live there happily, eventually metamorphosing into beautiful butterflies who flit around laying eggs on the host plants we’ve planted in the garden for them. It’s designed so that they can go through their entire life cycle naturally with little to no direct human involvement, just like they would outside of the garden. (The only exception to this is the blue morpho caterpillars who do get extra special care… but that’s for another blog post someday). What I’m doing is different.
I’m going outside of the butterfly garden and trying to discover new caterpillars whose butterfly alter-egos are still a mystery.
Perla (the cook) and I get really excited when we find new mystery caterpillars and its amazing all of the different forms, shapes and colors they take! Once discovered we attempt to keep them fed in various makeshift caterpillar boxes until they are ready to pupate and finally emerge as a butterflies. Simple concept. More difficult and stressful to successfully execute then you might imagine! Still I love it! I run to check on them first thing in the morning to see if they’re all still there and if any have changed… sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night and go check on them. I’m always thrilled when I find one has changed color or started to pupate while on the other hand becoming nearly disconsolate when one is lost. Right now I have 15 different types of caterpillar I’m attempting to raise… I have lost a handful of caterpillars in the last month since starting to do this, but also have gotten 4 to become chrysalises! AND as of today, my first mystery caterpillar has emerged as a butterfly!!!
It is no longer a mystery but has a name…The Band-celled Sister (Adelpha fessona). Our newest addition to the butterfly garden!
(here’s what it looked like as a caterpillar & chyrsalis)