pet caterpillar transformation

8.23.09   10pm
rodney came home today with these two pretties, and immediately i said "let them gooo!". emma suggested we keep them and watch them turn into beautiful butterflies....
she had taken a butterfly "hatching" kit to kindergarten for her class to watch, but at 10, she's on a pet kick, and wants to have her own menagerie here at home...nature lover.
they were on a parsley plant, and he brought some home with them. we retrieved a huge pickle jar from our recycling (wal-mart, mt.olive, biiig jar less than 3 bucks!)...
you can get closer if you click on the photos - sorry if they took a while to load!

8.24.09   10pm
after a little while emma decided the caterpillars didn't like the smell of the picklejar, so she dug out a hospital tank for our fish.  i did some searching online and found a ton of info on caterpillars.  these are actually called "parsley caterpillars", or black swallowtails...i got excited as i read they are easy to care for and many people do it, so we set up the little tank and they chowed on parsley and dill.  they also love fennel, but we uh, were fresh out (?).
these caterpillars were large and sooo gorgeous, the black like velvet, very dark, and the green and yellow like blacklight colors.  they eat like crazy! and luka was amazed (he's 3.85). no wonder some people get rid of them...they plow through the stuff. well, they didn't just eat a lot, they pooped a ton!  easy enough to clean out, though, like pellets.

8.26.09   11.50am
so, as i read online, the time would come when these guys empty their gutts in preparation for chrysalis development.  see?  there in the corner? and what was so cool, it was like synchronized butt-blasting - they are doing everything together.  a few hours before this, they were both head down in the same spots - does anyone know if they make some silk for their butts to stick to as well?   they began bobbing their heads back and forth on the branch, i guess stringing themselves up.  (soo much info and so many photos can be had with a simple google search if you want to know more-like here).
then they both tucked-in their heads, separated from the branches (except for their butt), and became motionless...

8.27.09   9.25am
i was dumbstruck when i peered into the tank this morning...maybe i'm not the only one who has never seen this evolution? i don't even recall ever seeing a video, even though science has always been one of my favorite subjects...
i had to get my glasses and a glass of oj and look again - yes, they had done their thing in the 4 hours i was asleep!  dangit! they went from plump, bright green, cute callapillers to dead-looking, crusty brown chrysalis'sesss (?).
later, emma came home from school and told me she saw one of them wiggling, and a crust came off and fell...wow- she got to see it! go see some videos on youtube, really, if you've never seen it...

they looked pretty creepy.  then luka saw them and almost cried.  he said "where's my callerpillars?!"   he insisted they didn't want to be brurflies....i took him to my computer and flashed through several videos (youtube - there are many) - so he could watch what was going to happen.  he wasn't impressed til he saw one butterfly poke his antennae out, one at a time, then he was giggling and went to watch our little ones.
if you click on these, you can see that the thread WEAVES through a section of the chrysalis for stability!  how?! how do they survive storms?  most don't make it...

8.27.09   12.30pm
according to the articles i sifted through, it takes 8-12 days for this miracle to happen, OR, they might overwinter!  i hope not, it's only august, and still 90, hopefully they will come out next week!
they even LOOK like twins, don't they?  along the middle area, you can almost see a wing pattern...they say the chrysalis will become almost transparent just before the butterflies emerge...i will keep posting to this same post, hopefully get a short video of the big event!
here is one more....nature is sooo cool, huh?

UPDATE:  9.21.09
well, nothing is happening.  the darker of the two shriveled quite a bit, it doesn't look good.  the other looks the same as the above picture.  i put in wet paper towels for moisture, then this week i tried putting them outside, thinking that the warm air would make them come out (it's been upper 70's-80's and extremely rainy) but nothing still.
it looks as though (and i have noo experience here) that they might overwinter? i'm not sure that they will come out any more this year, so we will follow directions we found on butterfly info sites to keep them dark and dry and cool. any other suggestions?   :)
meanwhile, here is a card in honor of the brave ones:

and two more photos....one is a close-up of the two of them, you can kinda see the back one is shriveled.  and the second is a photo of what i thought was a set of pretty creepy-looking bats or vampirish bugs!  they have faces and necks, and emma even pointed out how the darker one has a skeleton necklace! (hit it to blow it up) is this a protection thing?  it sure would keep me away if i was their size...


  1. my class has an army worm it has only been a week and a half i found it and now it has silk all over it i feed it no one else even if it is their turn your piller could have eggs in it such as wasp wich could be why it is shrivled good luck to you and your piller

  2. get a teddy bear hamster they rock