Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From Bug to Butterfly

Apparently, these beautiful, fat, black and green caterpillars that we found demolishing the foliage of our carrot tops are Black Swallowtail caterpillars! They prefer a diet of parsley, dill, or carrot tops... go figure, we already saw that!... and are DEFINITELY voracious eaters!!!!

When you upset them, they stick out these bright orange horns. Scent glands. They are called osmeteria. Apparently they are supposed to surprise predators as well as have a nasty scent. I can't smell anything though. Guess I'm just not as sensitive as something that might actually want to eat them. Cool, eh?

Eric and I are holding on to 4 of them as 'pets' because we want to see them make their chrysalises. (Before you start thinking 'cruel and unusual treatment of animals', remember that we have huge jars, plenty of cheesecloth, and access to fresh caterpillar appetizers daily!) It can be a hassle to go out there and harvest fresh carrot tops for them to eat, but we are so excited to see what happens. Blame it on the entomologist in each of us... we're just science nerds! What about you guys? Any other nerds out there that enjoy this sort of thing?


  1. Now you have pets! I don't want any pets, but maybe I could handle a caterpillar... =)

  2. I hope that you'll get to see the pretty butterfly eventually! I can't say that I've had any unusual pets - although my dad did have a skunk as a pet growing up. Does that count? :)

  3. Somehow this totally does not surprise me. Ask Eric about peanut butter jars and grasshoppers. Some things you never outgrow, I guess.

  4. That is really cool. I think they look pretty awesome as caterpillars. Their butterfly selves are beautiful too. Yay for nature being totally fascinating.