For months now I have been planning on buying a butterfly growing kit. Today we decided to take things into our own hands and construct one. Thanks to our gigantic butterfly bush we have a flourishing butterfly population in our backyard . Not surprisingly we now also have a flourishing caterpillar population in our vegetable gardens. My flat leaf Italian parsley and carrot plants are literally overrun with black swallowtail caterpillars. We wanted to save both the caterpillars and the plants and decided that building a new home for the caterpillars was our only option. I was able to search the web and locate the Bug Guide which has a detailed page on rearing caterpillars. Apparently caterpillars are very particular about what they eat. Individual caterpillar species have a particular type of food plant (or family of plants) that it is associated with. Moving the caterpillars onto other plants would not suffice. So we repurposed two old Ikea storage bins into a fantastic caterpillar abode.
Next we needed to construct a pupation site. Butterfly caterpillars should be given stems and branches from which to suspend their pupae. I was able to find a suitable rock in the backyard and hot glued fallen tree branches on to it.
Then we harvested some parsley from the garden, wrapped it in a moist paper towel and placed it in the caterpillar house. The parsley will need to be replenished every 1-2 days. Finally it was time to introduce the caterpillars to their new home.