We've been hatching up a storm around here. Not chickens, but butterflies! Several years ago we bought a butterfly hatching kit, complete with caterpillars that came in the mail. There were about three and you'd think we were watching our favorite television series the way we sat in front of the butterfly house.
Last year, a friend (who actually raises caterpillars) told me that all I have to do is have what caterpillars like to eat in my yard and they will come! No mail order necessary!
She gave us a milkweed plant and we've been harvesting caterpillars ever since. The eggs might be mistaken as something else because they're SO small. See that little white dot up there in the first photo? That's it!
We got extra good at finding them this year, as you can see by the amount of chrysalises hanging from our butterfly house.
You may want to research what kind of caterpillars do well in your area, but here are three that we are planning to invite into our garden this year:
monarch = milkweed
gulf fritillary = passionflower
black swallowtail = parsley, fennel, dill ;)
We typically just try to bring in the caterpillars because sometimes the eggs don't hatch when the leaves are dry and crispy. Once you bring in the caterpillar, provide some fresh leaves everyday until they've formed their chrysalis. I'm excited to see what the different caterpillars' chrysalises look like. I love the slight gold touch that the monarch uses.When they're about to emerge, the chrysalis goes from green to black to clear. And it emerges in less than 2 minutes.
As I was looking for a source for the butterfly house, I found one on Amazon here, if you want one made specifically for butterflies. My friend told me that she actually just uses a pop-up hamper that zips! That one is actually bigger and half as much.
Aren't they stunning?! Every butterfly amazes me. I started to carry the container with me when they turn black, but I miss it every single time. You can't pick the kids up from school, you can't go to the bathroom or take a shower. That's when they'll decide to emerge.
Pearl set up Ryan's ipad in front of the habitat and filmed it for 41 minutes and finally caught the butterfly emerging. She condensed it into a two minute video that we've watched at least a dozen times. After the two minutes, the abdomen elongates and the wings spread.