Today I noticed that there was a web in a nearby
tree and looked closely and there was caterpillars in it! I broke
the tree limb where it was and put them in a empty aquarium. I also
got a bunch of the leaves from the tree that they we in. I spiked
some water on the leaves and scattered them in the aquarium I put
that caterpillars in along with some other types of leaves. Is that
okay? How long will it take them to turn into butterflies? If they
do turn into butterflies and do not die, what would I feed them
until their wings are strong enough for them to fly?
Ah, yes, I raised tent caterpillars several times when I was a boy.
Before you go any further, I should warn you that those pretty
caterpillars do not turn into pretty butterflies; they turn into drab
gray moths. They are also pests, munching on leaves of fruit trees. So
if you raise some of these to adulthood, don't bother to release them.
That said, the caterpillars are fun and easy to care for. All they need
to eat are the leaves of the tree you got them from. When they're ready
to pupate, they'll spin a cocoon, and a short time (a few weeks, I
think) after that, they'll eat their way out as drab little moths.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming
Tent caterpillars that live in webs are moth larvae, not butterflies. It
takes a few weeks for them to mature as larvae, and then they pupate - go
into a "cocoon" stage for some time, how long they are in the cocoon before
becoming adults may depend on the species.
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Update: June 2012