My kids think I've brought caterpillars into their lives over many summers because I'm trying to give them a science lesson. The truth is that I just think they are cool. We are constantly pulling out our Audubon Field Guides trying to identify cool beetles or freaky skinks.
Early in the summer, a large mixed herb planter that I picked up at a garden center held many (and I mean many) surprises for us. One day we noticed some caterpillars eating the fennel. The next day there were no less than 10. The planter was on my deck and, sadly, a bird could not believe it's luck and picked them all off one day. After a few more days we had more caterpillars though (and they kept coming). I decided to save these from the fate of their earlier siblings (cousins?) and brought them inside in a large plastic jar. In the photo below there are probably about 15-20 cater pillars in the jar.
After they hatch the are teeny tiny.
Having raised Painted Lady's and Monarch caterpillars we knew it was pretty easy to keep caterpillars alive. All they want is food. They eat and sleep for about 2 weeks until they get to about the size of the 'pillar in the photo at the top of the page.
After a bit of research we determined that we had Anise Swallowtail caterpillars. They are somewhat picky eaters liking fennel, parsley, dill and anise (and a couple of other plants I can't seem to find around here.
More caterpillar craziness to come!