After receiving our fuzzy little friends yesterday afternoon, Miss G and I were excited to get them settled into their new homes. Now while this particular kit said that we could leave the caterpillars right in the shipping container to build their chrysalises, I’ve always transferred them into smaller containers in the past, so I decided we’d go with what I know. That, and in my experience, some always progress slower than others, so having them in separate containers will allow us to hang the chrysalises in our butterfly home one at a time, as they are ready. It also makes it easier to whisk away a dead caterpillar if needed (the success rate of raising them indoors is about 80%, so you’re bound to lose one or two), though I’ve always taken the opportunity to explain the circle of life when it’s come up with my students.
In order to transfer the caterpillars into their new mini homes, Miss G and I retrieved a plastic glove, a small paint brush, a small spoon, and several small craft containers our good friend Little Miss Mama drilled holes into (the small take out containers you get for sauces work great for this purpose too – just use a tack to poke several holes in the lids).
With freshly washed hands, we carefully opened the shipping container and took a better look at our babies. Gracen supervised them closely as I scooped a small chunk of the provided artificial food into each container, making sure leave the dirty bits behind. With the food in the containers, I used a gloved finger to gently press it down into the bases.
Then, very carefully, we used the tip of our paintbrush to pick up our caterpillars one at a time and place them into their new homes.
While handling them as minimally as possible is definitely the key to success when raising caterpillars/butterflies, Miss G was absolutely desperate to hold one of her fuzzy friends. With clean hands and a promise not to move, I gently placed one in her little palm. He crawled around, she watched in wonder, and when he made his way off of her fingertip, we placed him in his new home.
Since the caterpillars will soon be building their chrysalises from the roofs of their homes (a.k.a. the inside of the container lids) and we’ll need to remove the lids to hang them in our butterfly home before the transformation occurs, we opted not to screw our lids on. Instead, we just set them on gently and will be extra careful around them.
In the next couple of days, we’ll be watching our caterpillars eat and grow while setting up their butterfly house. More fun to come soon!