Hungry, hungry caterpillar…

At our May garden club meeting, I came face to face with the tiny caterpillars I had signed up to adopt. I’ve adopted lots of caterpillars in my gardens but never had the responsibility of raising one indoors. I was a bit apprehensive…

Home with me they went. I read the directions at least once a day to make sure I was a responsible mama to these Painted Lady caterpillars (Vanessa cardui). I watched them eat, grow, and move around the tiny container. I wondered how they could breathe in their tightly sealed tomb-like capsule. I wondered exactly what that was they were eating. And why were they eating the paper at the top of the container?

Whenever they crawled on the lid, I thought, “This is it. This is it.” but no.ย  It took a long time before they decided to begin their life cycle and attach to the lid. They simply ate and grew….

Then finally metamorphosis began… but alas, the timing was tricky. It was the same time as a granddaughter’s graduation fromย  Bennington College in VT, and at the same time two young granddaughters arrived from Ohio for a visit. Then within days, we were all packed and heading to Maine to vacation with18 family members.

๐Ÿ›ย  ๐Ÿ›ย  ๐Ÿ›ย  ๐Ÿ›

There was nothing else we could do but pack up our chrysalis and take them with us, risking disturbing and botching the whole transformation.While on vacation they remained immobile sitting high on a mantle out of reach of youngsters. Days went on as we swam, hiked, sat by the fire pit, played tennis, shopped, dined, etc.ย  Each day I checked the cocoons… and nothing. I truly thought the little guys must be dead.

๐Ÿฆ‹ย  ๐Ÿฆ‹ย  ๐Ÿฆ‹ย  ๐Ÿฆ‹

But NOT… one granddaughter said quietly on the day before our departure that we had butterflies! The end of the journey and our lovely Painted Ladies seemed pleased when we released them into a lush Maine garden nearby our vacation home. I read that Painted Lady butterflies prefer to feed on purple flowers and this garden had plenty.

Mission accomplished!





22 thoughts on “Hungry, hungry caterpillar…

  1. Mine are still unsure about emerging ! Hopefully this week. They lay eggs on hollyhocks, malva, and some legumes so look carefully. Love all your photos of their growth.


    • I think itโ€™s an educational thing helping us learn more about and appreciate these little critters and what they do for us. Itโ€™s made me more aware of whatโ€™s growing in my own garden. Yesterday I visited a nursery and came home with several more native perennials that pollinators feed on and/or act as hosts for young.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I was in kindergarten, I found a cocoon in the schoolyard and brought it in because I did not know better. Our teacher put it in an terrarium so that we could watch as it developed and opened into a butterfly. We took it outside and one of my classmates guided it out of the terrarium so that it could fly away. He still remembers that. Looking back, I am amazed that it survived.

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