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Raising Butterflies – Day 10

We’ve only had our caterpillars for 10 days and already they’ve doubled, tripled and quadrupled in size! Masha’Allah!

When we first collected the caterpillars we were putting loose leaves from the comfrey plant into the tank for them to feed on, but they didn’t last much more than a day before wilting. So I decided instead to uproot one of the comfrey plants from the garden and pot it before putting it into the tank for the caterpillars.

They seemed quite impressed and in less than a week they had literally decimated it!  And as they stuffed themselves we found many remains of molted skins all over the tank.


Molted skin on a twig

Here is a picture of a leaf that one caterpillar munched through in less than 20 minutes.

It was quite amazing to watch them munching away and see the leaf slowly disappearing. And as a result of all this munching, there was also alot of pooing! It never even came to mind that caterpillars poo, but I guess like all creatures: what goes in must come out.

We started to notice a lot of very tiny pellets at the bottom of the tank and at first we wondered if they were eggs, but it soon became apparent, after witnessing a caterpillar in action, that these were caterpillar droppings. And as the caterpillars grow, their droppings get extremely large. In fact this caterpillar pellet is bigger than the caterpillar’s head!

Anyway, today I decided to get rid of the shrivelled up comfrey plant and replace it with a new one. I had to remove it leaf by leaf, separating the caterpillars and putting them into a plastic tuppaware box so that I could clean out the tank and put in the new pot of comfrey without squashing the little things.

We really got a close look and saw the difference in sizes, and we had an official count up and found we had 15 caterpillars altogether, so I’m guessing a few more sneaked in on the uprooted comfrey plant.

Our largest caterpillar, fondly referred to by the kids as ‘The Abi’ is now 4 cms long and more than 5mm wide. All of the caterpillars are now settled back into the tank to munch their way through another comfrey plant. I am going to look for some suitable branches in the next few days ready for when the first caterpillars decide to start making their cocoons insha’Allah.

'The Abi' close up

We got some fantastic close up shots and managed to do a more detailed anatomy diagram.

We are looking into how long it takes before our caterpillars enter the pupa stage and how long the pupa stage lasts.

More to come soon, insha’Allah

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