Butterfly raising isn’t all fun and pleasure. Caterpillars are a handful! They have to be fed, and everyone knows what goes in must come out. It’s a law of nature.
Let’s take a look at the messy side of caterpillar raising.
In just one container, I have 40 caterpillars. I cleaned their container in the morning, but by lunch I discovered this giant pile of caterpillar frass (poop). I had to take all 40 caterpillars out of the container to clean up this mess. That is just one container, I have 2 more plus my butterfly pavilion. The caterpillars blend in well with the frass so it takes a good eye to find them all.
Inside another container the caterpillars are busy eating. They strip the water hyssop vine of all its leaves. This container has to be refilled with food.
See a video of a White Peacock caterpillar floating!
Moving caterpillars is not an easy task! I sometimes have to scoop them up with a spoon to transport them. Then after I clean the container I have to move them back in. When the caterpillars get mad, (which is a lot), they bend backwards in a striking fashion. If their really angry they will spit out green liquid. It was quite shocking when I discovered my fingers were green!
How did I get so many caterpillars?
These 140 caterpillars were not laid by wild butterflies. I took 5 White Peacocks and placed them in my butterfly pavilion. Click on the following link to see my pavilion http://elizabethssecretgarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-new-portable-butterfly-pavilion.html There was two females and three males. I put plumbago, pentas, and frogfruit inside for the butterflies to nectar on. Then I had water hyssop for them to lay eggs on. After four days the females had mated and began to lay eggs. They hid them everywhere. They even laid eggs on plumbago which is not their host plant.
Just days before we were going to leave on vacation to Talking Rock, Georgia my caterpillars began to hatch! Thankfully I had planted plenty of their host plant in containers. We rolled the pavilion full of caterpillars under the lanai so my host plants wouldn’t wilt in the sun. We left them there for three days and they did great. They are now beginning to make chrysalises. My next posting I will give a number of how many caterpillars successfully make chrysalises.