Caring for your pet caterpillar – UPDATE

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I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, named by the kids as “Emily”

Now normally these are some critters you want to keep out of your garden but with my kids asking for the “Live Butterfly Garden,” bringing in a caterpillar from inside and putting it into a jar seemed like a much more cost effective option.

Growing up I have caught caterpillars with the great hopes that I would be able to witness its metamorphosis into a butterfly.  Unfortunately, the lack of the internet or a nearby library I never got the knowledge of the particular “butterfly” I caught wouldn’t eat just any leaves I threw in it .  Caterpillars are very picky eaters and each specie only will consume particular types of leaves.

If you found your caterpillar munching on a plant you are in luck and you can just pick a couple leaves a day for your caterpillar.  They will not eat old or dry leaves and must be replaced daily.  In our case our caterpillar was found on a plastic play set, which sort of limited out options.  My girls did pick some leaves of various plants in our yard, and if we are lucky we may find one our caterpillar enjoys.

To improve the odds I was able to identify this caterpillar as a Painted Lady, which enjoys nettles and thistle.  Both of which grow great in my area, though none is growing in my yard (which normally would be a good thing)

This led to a nice walk in the woods to attempt to find some leaves for the caterpillars distinguished palate, unfortunately we did not find any nettles or thistles though came back with a good variety of leaves.

That Butterfly Garden is looking like a bargain at the moment.

UPDATE — May 31, 2008

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We are happy to announce that “Emily” has started has started her transformation into becoming a beautiful butterfly (or moth if my amateur identification is incorrect).  We were successful in finding their favorite food which happened to be the little clovers growing in our back yard.  Definitely a case of good reason to not kill all weeds with pesticides in your yard, by the way the rabbits love the stuff more than my lettuce so added bonus.

As you can see in the background “Emily” has some friends with her (3 total)  though currently unnamed, though I am sure by the time my daughter reads this post she will fix that.

Stay tuned in 7-10 days hopefully we will have a butterfly/moth release.

UPDATE — 06/26/2009

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Well 7-10 days turned into more like 26 days, just when we were thinking the worse, Emily emerged as a beautiful brown moth.

For info on the flight lessons and release, check out this post.

Pea Blossom

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How to make a cheap pea trellis

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This is really two trellises in one.  I started by taking a couple bamboo stakes (reused from a couple of one season too long Halloween scarecrows) and bound them together at the top using some twine.  I then put the ends in the corners of my garden leaning against the cinder blocks surrounding my raised garden.  I following this by adding some twine up the trellis to allow the peas to climb up.

Thing started to get a little crowded so I browed a tip from Martha Stewart, now she recommends black birch branches, but I decided to go with the dead bush I had in my back yard.  I was already chopping it up to compost so saved some of the larger branches, stabbed them in the ground and ala pea trellis.

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Though the two part trellis was more of an accident, in many ways I really like the support of the bamboo along with the abstract reach of the branches.