Thursday, August 20, 2015

Raising Catterpilar to Butterfly

This quest started one day when I found out a caterpillar last year in my new grown calamansi plant. I decided to take care of the caterpillar and transfer it in temporary container since the plant was too small that there's no enough leaf for him to survive.

Luckily we have fresh calamansi leaves since we just picked calamansi fruits from my parents' garden during this time. I have read some posts that a caterpillar will only eat leaves from its host plant. I am very curious and excited how will our caterpillar transform into a butterfly or a moth not that sure I haven't seen it in the actual. My children and I monitors what happens everyday.

remains from molted larva
Sad to say that after few days, I found the caterpillar dead. One of the reasons I guess is poisoning from the leaves. I learned that the leaves should be carefully washed since it could have pesticides.

Last month, I noticed that something again is munching the leaves of my calamansi plant. I am no longer surprised to see another caterpillar. I decided not to move it away from the plant and let it grow naturally. We are observing its changes from day to day.

I did another research about the caterpillar I found because I want to know what kind of caterpillar I am raising. Since its host plant is calamansi, (a variety of citrus tree) the caterpillar will turn into a lime butterfly others calls it the swallowtail butterfly. This caterpillar sure has a big appetite that it almost finished all the calamansi leaves. One morning our caterpillar stopped eating and moving; that is the start of its pupating period.

The next day the caterpillar turned pure green that looked like a leaf. I was amazed to see the transformation. Before I used to think that caterpillars rolls itself inside a leaf. Now I know it's not. Another amazing thing was its ability to cling to where it chose to attached itself. Closely examining the chrysalis, there's a fine silk from its body that is attached to the stem so it won't fall even when strong winds blow.

Every day we visit our caterpillar to note some changes in the chrysalis. One day I noticed that the upper portion starts to change its color from green having a brownish tinge. I immediately searched Google to find an answer. I learned that it's a sign that the butterfly will start to emerge from it. After few days it did successfully emerge out but I haven't seen the butterfly. We had a scheduled trip for the whole day where I feel that the butterfly will come out the chrysalis. Before leaving I do visited and it was still there, we arrived too late at night and found the chrysalis was empty.

But after few days, I was happy again to see another caterpillar, though I am a bit worried because my plant has few leaves left. I wonder if it will survive. I'm glad that the leaves are enough and it reached the chrysalis stage. I don't want to miss out another opportunity so I decided to transfer it in a container.

I cleaned a clear plastic jar, get some clay and stick it in the bottom so it can hold the piece of the plant stem where our caterpillar attached itself. Then covered the jar using a hair net. It was a bigger challenge placing it in a jar because I had to find a secured place. Even though this is my third time to raise a caterpillar, I honestly don't have enough knowledge about taking care of them. Experience gave me a hint that the butterfly is going to come out 7 - 9 days when it started pupating. I was expecting that it will be out on my birthday. But it didn't so I was worried that it might be dead. But I am still hoping that maybe it's not yet ready and needs few more days. That night we wanted to use our air conditioner and I am not sure if it's OK to place my jar in an air conditioned room. So what I did was to place it outside the window where there's a direct sunlight every morning.

The next day, I was already in kitchen about 7 o'clock in the morning to cook meals for a Sunday Celebration (post birthday treat for church members) and I remembered the jar. I was too late when I see the butterfly at the bottom of the jar and it is no longer moving.

The probable reason for it's death is too much heat from the sunlight. I read a post that a butterfly should be placed in an area not greater than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

I would still try to raise another caterpillar next time hoping to be successful in seeing a butterfly coming out its chrysalis.  I am planning to buy a citrus tree that will be a haven for my caterpillars. 

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