knitting by my hands and from my heart

The yarn stash just keeps on growing! I'm a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, and a friend who works in Corporate America, lives in the Boston, MA area and is always looking for more time to knit.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

'Science project'

Here's a little of what I've been up to the last few weeks. Raising monarch caterpillars. Ever since I was a young girl, I've loved raising caterpillars to watch them grow into beautiful butterflies (I've done moths, but it's just not the same) to set them free. It's a lot of fun and when the kids get older, I hope they take an interest in it as well. I haven't done this in years and being out on maternity leave has helped me find the time to hunt for caterpillars and I've ordered some online as well. Getting them mailorder is not the same thing as finding them in the wild, however.

I also love the black swallowtail but haven't been able to find them this year. Maybe next year. I'll plant some carrots or parsely which the larvae love.

It hasn't all gone down without a hitch. I originally had seven monarch caterpillars. Four I found and three survived from my mailorder batch. Four succumbed to this and it was panic-time. I wiped the cage down with a Clorox wipe and it has seemed to do the trick. I believe the reason was overcrowding so in the future I will do no more than three per cage.

The three left are doing great and it won't be long now before they're pupae (or chrysallis)--I love the monarch's chrysallis and will post a picture of that when it happens.

Back on July 12th, they looked like this:

Then approximately a week later, this:

And today:

They grow incredibly fast, shedding their skin multiple times. After shedding, they then eat their skin--gross, huh?

I'm keeping the caterpillars in this--a find at the Discovery Store, in the mall, years ago:

When the larvae were real tiny a couple of them escaped through the screen. I somehow found the microscopic Houdini's and rescued them. However, I think the escapees were part of the four that perished.

AND the baby blanket! Here it is, still a work-in-progress. I think I'm only going to do ten repeats of the heart pattern instead of the twelve the pattern calls for. Enough already.

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link | posted by BerryKnitty at 9:59 PM |


Blogger *karen commented at 10:44 PM~  

I have to admit the stripes on these caterpillars creep me out. Which is weird because as a kid my friends and I would find monarch caterpillars to raise and we had no problem touching them back then! Don't they have a very distinct smell?

Oh, I got sidetracked. I meant to encourage you: You can too make the pillow! (if you decide to try, of course :o)

Blogger BerryKnitty commented at 10:53 PM~  

When the cage needs to be cleaned (which I'll admit is gross), then there is a smell, but not too bad and for me that's saying something because I can't handle bugs--I skeeve at spiders especially.

I know what you mean about the creepy part and since I hadn't done this in years I was leery, but I'm okay with it.

I love love love the pillows and hope to get into sewing again someday!

Blogger laughingrat commented at 10:12 PM~  

Nice job on the blanket!

The monarch caterpillars are beautiful. I didn't know they looked like that!

Lots of stuff has been negatively impacting butterfly and bird populations...overdevelopment is a huge one, of course, but lawn chemicals and similar are really deadly too. :( That might be why you're having trouble finding plenty of caterpillars in the wild.

Blogger BerryKnitty commented at 2:59 PM~  

you're so absolutely right, laughingrat--I had heard about chemicals here affecting the caterpillars and for years couldn't find any. This year (happily) I see a lot of monarch butterflies and caterpillars around the milkweed plants! Hopefully they're not all diseased or become that way from chemicals.

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