Butterfly Magic

By Domenica Di Piazza (Editorial Director, TFCB) and Martha Kranes (Senior Production Editor)

butterfly from martha

My editorial colleague, Martha Kranes, and her family always have exciting projects going on at their home. For example, Martha’s eight-year-old son recently discovered nine caterpillars on a volunteer bronze fennel plant that had come up from last year’s seed in the family garden.

Martha and her son brought four of the caterpillars into the house and put them in what they call their “butterfly containment center.” Thinking, at first, that the caterpillars would be monarchs—yet puzzled as to why the caterpillars were on fennel, not milkweed—they put some milkweed leaves in with the caterpillars.

Then they did some googling and discovered that the caterpillars were actually black swallowtail caterpillars, which feed on dill, fennel, parsley, Queen Anne’s lace, carrot greens, and other members of the parsley family. So they put some store-bought parsley in with the caterpillars and cleaned out the containment center and added fresh parsley every day for about a week.

The caterpillars attached to the mesh walls of the containment center and formed their chrysalises. About ten days later, the first butterfly (above) emerged! (Note that this happened as quickly as it did because Martha’s son had found caterpillars that were fairly far along in their molting.)

To learn more about raising butterflies at home, click here for more information. Or, take a look at our Lerner Publications title From Egg to Butterfly to learn how butterflies grow. I may be the editorial director of TFCB, but I admit to having needed a little refresher course on the butterfly life cycle. Our Lerner title did the trick!

Be sure to check in next week for more from TFCB!

(Photo: courtesy of Martha Kranes)