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Question:
We were wondering if we could catch caterpillars in jars, provide some kind of food source, and watch them turn into butterflies. I know you can order those kits, but there are lots of caterpillars everywhere right now! PLEASE answer our questions. Thanks



Replies:
Hi PALS II

When I catch catterpillars I put them in shoeboxes with some leaves from the tree that I got them from. I change the leaves avery day and check on them twice a day to make sure that they are OK (because when they turn into butterflies they have to be let go so that they can go and find a mate). I poke holes inthe top of the shoebox with a pair of scissors so that the catterpillars have plenty of air.

Good Luck and take good care of your catterpillars.

Cameron Millsom


Sure, it's easy. I used to do it all the time when I was a kid. Just find out what the caterpillars eat - that's usually easy, because mostly all caterpillars do is eat. If you catch a caterpillar eating a leaf, just make sure that you give it plenty of those leaves every day. You may need to experiment a little bit to give the caterpillar a good platform when it finally gets around to spinning its cocoon or making its crysalis, but caterpillar raising is generally not much of a chore.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.


Beats me. I am a chemist, not an entomologist. It is true that not all caterpillars make butterflies; some make moths. Those can be interesting, too. Bagworms you should be able to identify in a real hurry; they'll cover themselves in leaves to make something that looks like a pine cone, and eat from that protective shell.

I think that, in general, butterfly caterpillars are smooth-skinned and moth caterpillars are furry. There may be exceptions. If you have collected the larvae of some other insects, you will find out what they are when they grow up. There's nothing wrong with that.

There is also tha possibility that some of your moth or butterfly caterpillars will yield only a small fly or wasp from the coccoon or chrysalis - this occurs when the caterpillar is carrying the larva of a parasitic wasp, which eventually kills its host. Not pretty, but it is educational.



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