Raising butterflies is one of the most rewarding tasks for children. When children raise butterflies, they get hands-on experience in caring for another living creature, and they also get to observe the full life cycle of the caterpillar. Many children find that watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly is magical. But what they don’t realize is that watching this magic happen is a complete science lesson.
When it comes to breeding butterflies, you have two options for acquiring caterpillars. Your first option is to purchase live caterpillars from a variety of vendors. Some vendors might even sell caterpillar eggs instead of live eggs.
Your second option is to go hunting for your own caterpillars to breed them. Each method has its pros and cons, so you will have to take them into account when making your decision.
Going out and catching your own caterpillars can be hard work, but it’s well worth the effort. Taking children out hunting for caterpillars helps teach them what kinds of plants butterflies actually eat.
The reason for this is that when looking for caterpillars, you need to consider what type of plant you need to look for in order to find a particular caterpillar. For example, milkweed is the plant of choice for caterpillars that develop into monarch butterflies. While you’ll find these caterpillars on milkweed plants, the plant itself is needed to feed the caterpillars.
The downside to searching for your own caterpillars is that it can be time consuming. You can only actively hunt caterpillars during specific seasons, so the opportunity is very limited.
Buying live caterpillars has a huge advantage over hunting caterpillars in most cases, as they can be purchased at any time of the year. Another advantage of buying caterpillars is that you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out what type of caterpillar it is and what is the most appropriate food to feed them. Another advantage of buying caterpillars is that they often come with a growing medium, which means you don’t have to go out and find fresh food for them every day.
The downside of buying caterpillars is that children don’t enjoy the thrill of discovering caterpillars hidden among the plants. They also don’t learn about the different types of caterpillars or, indeed, the different foods they eat.
Whether you buy live caterpillars or hunt them yourself, it’s important to offer them fresh food every day. Caterpillars will not eat wilted leaves or eat dry leaves. Having easy access to a food plant is important.
You can cut off the excess leaves from the plant, but you’ll need to store them in your refrigerator to keep them fresh. Removing the old leaves every day is important to raising a healthy caterpillar. Old leaves can become moldy.
Another option you have is to buy a plant that the caterpillar will eat and put it in the habitat.
The plant eliminates the need to provide fresh leaves each day.