Thursday, June 4, 2009

Caterpillar into Butterfly

Well caterpillar into cocoon at this point.  Will update with any real changes but I don't think there will be any more until butterfly is ready to come out.  

So the story goes, my boss grabbed some passion fruit flower leaves out of his yard to put in with a little gecko, a few days go by and I notice a two caterpillars in with the gecko.  I plan on taking them out but forget about it, the next time I go into work one is cocooned so I leave it and I take the other one out and take it home with me.  Over the next few days I give it some fresh leaves and watch it grow.  I doubled in size within a week.  

The caterpillar is a Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae

Then it starts getting REALLY fat and I start tweeting about it and someone asks for pictures. End result I decided to take pics and post a blog about it.  It really is fascinating.  I think I brought the caterpillar home around May 20th.  I took a picture of it when I brought it home but I think I may have deleted it, wait let me check my computers recycle bin.....nope nothing there, maybe I didn't take a picture.  It was probably just under an inch long when I brought it home.  

I apologize for the pictures, I didn't think to clean the sides of the little tank I put it in.  I think I had some crickets in there at some point and while I did wipe down the bottom it was only when I started taking pictures that I realized the sides were all spotted with stuff.  

Here are the pictures I have so far:

Tuesday June 2nd 6pm
I took this picture because he was so fat compared to when I brought it home I was amazed at how much it had eaten and how plump it was getting.  In this picture it is busy eating away at more leaves. 

Wednesday June 3rd 11am
The orange had been getting lighter for the past few days and when I set up the tank I specifically put the stick in like that and kept leaves away from it because I thought it would be the perfect spot for it to cocoon, looks like I was right.  I saw it here in the morning and around the time I took this picture it was putting some white substance on the stick by its mouth, which is on the right.  

This is just a crop of the above picture.  You get a better look at the actual caterpillar and his spines (and of the spots on the sides of the tank).

Wednesday June 3rd 5pm
I came home from work and look what I found.  

View from the other side and a surprise, another little caterpillar (on the leaf to the left of the big guy) that must have hatched since I brought the leaves home because I checked them for other caterpillars, didn't think to look for tiny little eggs.  I am going to take it out and put it into a very clean cage and grow him too and document it.

Thursday June 4th 12pm
Look all cocooned! It shed its caterpillar spines and stuff, big black blob under it and to the right.  All the little dots of black are caterpillar poop, there is A LOT of caterpillar poop in the cage. A LOT!!!!

I will update with more pics if things change and when butterfly comes out. Also will be keeping track of other little caterpillar.  


  1. that's so cool!
    i was thinking of growing a caterpillar it challenging?
    can't wait to see how the butterfly turns out :D

  2. It is super easy, no real care needed besides providing a cocooning spot and feeding them. You have to know what species you have because they often eat a very specific foods. This particular one eats passionfruit leaves only. Some eat a range of plants in the same family and other only eat one specific plant. That's basically all the info you need.