My Mum brought us a bunch of flowers one day at the beginning of October. But she brought more than the flowers. She presented us with Caty, the caterpillar, who somehow became our pet.
I noticed the leaf and petal munching creature in the vase. E. got really excited about it and found it cute. After a few days when the flowers started to wilt E got worried about Caty (she gave the caterpillar a name) hence we built Caty a home.
A jar would have been enough but E. is kind to animals and wanted a huge place for the caterpillar so we emptied a big transparent IKEA toy box and covered the bottom of it with kitchen roll and placed some good-looking flowers from the vase. (E collected some more wild weed flowers from the park to make Caty’s diet more varied.)
We read a lot about caterpillars and their metamorphosis on the Internet. We managed to find out that Caty is most likely a pest, a cotton bollworm, and would not turn into a butterfly but a moth.
We learnt from our research that Caty would probably love to eat paprika, so E was more than happy to provide it for our new pe(s)t.
Just to make sure she got enough food and her surroundings were comfortable and homely, E pick some leaves and twigs and “decorated” Caty’s box.
Caty loves the paprika and ate, and ate and ate it all day. Apart from eating she pooped a lot so after a few days we needed to change the kitchen roll under it.
Also we leant that she might need a stick to hang onto when she turns into chrysalis. So we added a stick in her home. (By the way the top of the box wasn’t totally covered during the day so she got fresh air but at night I covered it just to be on the safe side 😉
After a few days (7-8 days) she stopped eating and was crawling around the box as if it wanted to get out. Then we realised that Caty wanted to find the best place for her metamorphoses. Finally she didn’t hang onto the stick but created a safe corner for herself and turned into a brownish chrysalis.
I’m not sure how long it took her to change because there were some days when we forgot to check her but in about 2 weeks she flew out of the box.
It was around 10 o’clock at night and Daddy saw Caty (who turned into Mothy according to E.) ran into the kids’ room whispering: E. are you still awake?
Well, she wasn’t but Daddy woke her up to have a look at the new form of her pet. It was the beginning of November. We took a photo and let her free. Well, Daddy put her out onto the balcony so she could go and find food.
As E. reads the blog sometimes the story finishes here for the time being.
I can only encourage everyone to go and find a caterpillar, take it home and see the wonder of nature in your home. The kids enjoyed it and learnt a lot at the same time, not to mention that E. learnt to take care of another little life. It’s a great activity with kids 3+.
I also recommend reading books about the changes of butterflies:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl
Caterpillar’s wish by Mary Murphy
Caterpillar Butterfly by Vivien French
National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly
Update ——- June 2018——–
I found another caterpillar in the cauliflower. We put it in a plastic box (much smaller than the IKEA toy box) together with some cauliflower and within 2-3 days it turned into a chrysalis. It was stuck to the side of the plastic box. E. didn’t give her a stick this time and everything happened much faster.
Again we did some research on the Net and found out that it should turn into a cabbage butterfly.
And it did. It was nap time for the girls and my friend B. (who talks to the kids in English only) was around sipping her coffee in the living room while I was putting Little L down to take a nap. As I returned to the living room B. told me that she saw something moving in the box.
And yes it was a white cabbage butterfly. We called E. and she set the shy butterfly free on the balcony. It was a magic moment when she flew away. We all felt goosebump.