Raising butterflies is one of the most rewarding tasks for children. When children raise butterflies they get the hands-on experience of taking care of another living creature as well as also getting to watch the full life cycle of the caterpillar. Many children find watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly to be something magical. But what they don’t realize is that watching this magic happen is a complete science lesson.
When it comes to raising butterflies you have two options for acquiring the caterpillars. Your first option is to buy live caterpillars from a variety of suppliers. Some suppliers might even sell caterpillar eggs rather than live ones.
Your second option is to go out and hunt for your own caterpillars to raise. Each method has its pros and cons, so you will have to keep them in mind when taking your decision.
Going out and catching your own caterpillars can be hard work but well worth the effort. Having the children go out and hunt for caterpillars helps teach them about what type of plants butterflies actually eat.
The reason for this is that when hunting for caterpillars you must consider what type of plant you need to look for in order to find a particular caterpillar. For example milkweed is the plant preferred by caterpillars that become Monarch Butterflies. While you will find these caterpillars in the milkweed plants, the plant itself is needed to feed the caterpillars.
The drawback in searching for your own caterpillars is that it can be time consuming. You can only actively hunt for caterpillars during specific seasons, so the opportunity span is very limited.
Purchasing live caterpillars has a huge advantage over hunting for caterpillars in most cases as they can purchased at any time during the year. Another advantage to purchasing 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 to buying caterpillars is that they often come with a growth medium meaning you don’t have to go out and find fresh food for them each day.
The disadvantage to buying caterpillars is that children don’t get to enjoy the thrill of discovering caterpillars hidden among the plants. Nor do they learn about the different types of caterpillars or indeed the different foods they eat.
Whether you buy live caterpillars or hunt for your own it is important to offer them fresh food every day. Caterpillars will not eat wilted leaves nor will they eat dried leaves. Having easy access to a food plant is important.
You can cut excess leaves from the plant but you will need to keep them in your refrigerator to maintain them fresh. Removing the old leaves each day is important to raising a healthy caterpillar. Old leaves can become moldy.
Another option you have is to buy a plant the caterpillar will eat and put it in the habitat.
The plant eliminates the need to provide fresh leaves each day.