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Raising Butterflies – Life Cycles

My daughter Samira recently completed her Butterfly Lapbook and was so keen to see the butterfly life cycle first hand. I promised that as soon as Spring comes we would try to collect some caterpillars for a project on Raising Butterflies.

Every year we always find lots of caterpillars in our garden around March time, so today I decided to go and collect the fish tank from the bottom of the garden to clean it up before we go on a caterpillar hunt. The tank had been sitting out since last summer and was covered in baby snails, so we collected a few baby snails to add to the tank too. We also spotted quite a few ladybirds which my 3 year old Basma also wanted to add to the tank! I have no idea about the ladybird life cycle but after reading this wonderful project about Raising Lady Bugs on Umm Abdul Basir’s blog I think it’s something we would love to try in the future insha’Allah

Our baby snails are smaller than a fingernail at the moment, masha'Allah!

Close up - this snails shell is only about 4-5mm tall

Once the tank was clean, the kids and I went out into the garden to where we usually spot the caterpillars. Straight away we found plenty of leaves with holes in them and a closer look revealed around 20 caterpillars perched on the leaves of a comfrey plant.

I cut off a few stems of the plant along with the leaves that we found the caterpillars on and put them into the tank. We collected around 12 caterpillars altogether.

We added in some small twigs for the caterpillars to crawl along.

Some of the caterpillars are slightly larger that the others. And we hope to have the opportunity to witness close up the caterpillars molting their skin.

Smallest Caterpillar 17mm long, 3mm wide / Largest Caterpillar 20mm long, 4mm wide

After the caterpillars were settled into their new home we went online to identify our caterpillars and find out what they will turn into. It was then that we found out, we aren’t actually raising butterflies, we are raising MOTHS.

We visited a website called UK Safari, where we was able to identify our caterpillars through the photo gallery. Our caterpillars will, insha’Allah, turn into the Scarlet Tiger Moth.

The Scarlet Tiger Moth is not like the common, duller moths that come out at night time. It is a brightly coloured,  day time moth.

Caterpillar stretching up and looking around

While we wait for our caterpillars to develop we are looking back and reminding ourselves of some caterpillar and butterfly facts, and learning a little more about the differences and similarities between butterflies and moths.

We managed to get a close up photo of one of the caterpillars as it crawled up the side of the tank. Samira identified and labelled the main body parts including the true legs and false legs. Most caterpillars have 16 legs: 3 pairs of true legs (characteristic of all insects)  close to the head end of the caterpillar and 5 pairs of false legs that support the rest of its body.

Insha’Allah we will be keeping a week by week photo and video diary of our caterpillars. Join us as we witness the marvels of Allah’s creation.



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