Caterpillar Solutions

This is just a “Raising Peacock Caterpillars” update.

I looked into buying a tailor made caterpillar house, well I only really looked as far as those caterpillar raising kits that you can buy and I didn’t like them much. The caterpillars arrive in a little clear plastic tub that is empty but for a brown layer of artificial food on the base and the animals live in this vacuum until they are ready to pupate. The kit also includes a net cage for the butterflies when they emerge. I don’t get it. You can’t keep a butterfly in a cage. You must let them go when they emerge. So I have to make my own.

The idea of keeping my caterpillars in an empty jar is appalling. Seeing the joy on their little faces as they scamper around in their nettles, surely that is what it is all about. Caterpillars are great and they have character.

On Wednesday I walked into the kitchen to be confronted with this scene.

Peacock caterpillarsI didn’t realise how many there were, about forty.

“What in the blazes do you think you are doing? Get back in your leaves at once!”

My first thought was that I had too many of them and I would have to get rid of some of them, Sort out who the ringleaders were and deal with them (That’s not as easy as you would think)

When I was a kid we had a tropical fish tank and I know that little fish don’t shoal unless you have a lot of them, my Small Tortoiseshells didn’t shoal but I only had a few and I want these to be able to behave naturally so I have decided that I must keep them but I have to make them secure.

Well I got them back in their leaves eventually and the next day they were swinging from leaf to leaf, happy little animals and their naughtiness was forgiven.

Peacock caterpillars

Peacock caterpillarsBy yesterday evening they had formed back into a ball and look like they are going to have another mass moult.

Peacock caterpillarsThey are getting quite big now and need a bit of attention.

This morning I set about dealing with the problem.

First to clean them out.

Peacock caterpillarsI took advantage of their torpor and popped them into a jam jar…

Peacock caterpillarsCleaned out the debris…

Peacock caterpillarsFreshened up their greens…

Peacock caterpillarsand popped them back in and they are none the wiser.

Peacock caterpillarsThey should really stay on their leaves but there are so many and they eat so quickly that I have to keep them well topped up.

When they are ready to pupate their natural behaviour will be to split up and move as far away from the food plant a they can. In the kit form all that they can do is climb up and stick themselves to the top of the jar. I need a big jar to keep them in.

Here it is.

Peacock caterpillars cageI found a handy sized cupboard in my kitchen that wasn’t really doing anything important. So I removed the shelf, lined it with kitchen paper, added a few sticks and there we are.

(I am no longer married so I can do this sort of thing with no raised eyebrows)

Peacock caterpillarsOf course they don’t have to live in there all of the time, I am sure that they like to feel the sun and  the breeze. I can just put them in there when I am going out or to bed, or if they are acting suspiciously.

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2 thoughts on “Caterpillar Solutions”

  1. I love the way you care for your little creatures Colin – and talk to them! We don’t have any neighbours so I talk to nearly every creature in the garden. I bet they’re towing the line now after that dressing down you gave them!

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    1. Thank you Jude 🙂 they were the funniest sight, marching around the rim of that planter like they were running away to join the circus but I couldn’t let them see that I was laughing. I had to pretend to be angry 🙂

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