Caterpillars and keeping things alive

We’ve got a cupful of caterpillars, a tiny tankful of sea monkeys, a beanstalk in a cup and an anthill waiting to be made. We’re basically trying to keep everything in our house alive, no matter how small, with varying degrees of success. 

Before you imagine a whole load of little brown furry creatures swinging from twigs in my kitchen, let me clarify. The sea monkeys, or Aqua Dragons, are supposed to be little swimming creatures which look a bit on the box like microscopic skeletal fleas. Sadly it looks like they are the first casualty and as far as we could see, none of the little things even hatched! Maybe time to try again with a second batch of eggs, which thankfully you can buy separately from the toy shop. 

More successful so far are the caterpillars, which came in the post as a birthday present from my sister. They are part of a Live Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore, and are such a nice spring project to do with your kids, if you can stomach looking at a tub of caterpillars in your kitchen for several weeks. 

The idea is that you receive your pot of six tiny live caterpillars, nurture them until they turn into butterflies and you release them into the garden. I’m much more optimistic about this than the Aqua Dragons, mainly because we’ve done it before and managed to set five pretty butterflies free. When we liberated our last set, they creeped out of the net and sat on our hands for a few minutes before deciding to brave flying free.

Although I intended to post about the caterpillars when they were in their infancy, time is passing in a blur and they have now quadrupled in size, crept to the top of the pot and each has transformed into a small black chrysalis. All seem to be ok apart from one, who sadly didn’t make it and is ‘resting’ at the bottom of the container. 

Tonight’s job is to transfer these creepy looking pods into a green net, into which they will eventually emerge as painted lady butterflies. I’ll keep you updated on how they get on. 



As for the beanstalk, it came into our house as a bean planted in a plastic cup of soil, and is now a foot-tall weed sprouting on the kitchen windowsill. The anthill, well I think I’ll give myself a few weeks grace before opening the box. However, there is something therapeutic about growing things, watching life cycles and nurturing tiny creatures. Watch this space. 

X Julia

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  • Reply
    Beth Twinderelmo
    May 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    It is quite amazing seeing something develop and grow. I actually got a tad emotional when we released them – we took them up to “see Granny” and one flew straight on to her flowers and stayed there until we left. It was so wonderful for Charlie to see the journey and share it too. Enjoy your butterflies!! We must order some more soon xx
    Beth Twinderelmo recently posted…Slimming World – The StartMy Profile

    • Reply
      May 8, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      That is so lovely Beth, that must have been a tear jerking moment for you! Please get some more so we can compare notes! Xx

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Great to hear how the wrigglers are doing, and a little gutted to hear about the dragons.
    We loved watching our catterpillars last year. After we released ours we kept seeing them fly past…probably not our butterflies but the children were thrilled to imagine they might have been popping by to say hello.
    So far this year we have begun to rear a few tomato and bean plant babies, but lost our sunflower to a hungry slug! Xx

    • Reply
      May 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I don’t think I’ll bother with sunflowers this year, nothing can recreate my glory from the 80s!! X

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    You can keep the butterflies (bluegh) but we have had plenty of seamonkeys and ant farms over the years, the kids loved them. I’m actually thinking of getting some more seamonkeys as I don’t think LV really remembers them and he’s the perfect age. You may have to send off for the ants so you might want to take a look at the instructions before you want to start that one. xxx
    Katie recently posted…Taking a holiday, the Snaptrip wayMy Profile

    • Reply
      May 8, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Katie you can be my sea monkey guru then! I thought I might just collect some ants from the pavement?! Think I definitely need to read the instructions! X

  • Reply
    May 9, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Such lovely projects to do with the kids. We’ve had the caterpillars for the last couple of years. Sadly my boys weren’t interested, but I found it fascinating (after a frantic google to check if their heads are supposed to fall off when they change to a chrysalis – who knew!). x

    • Reply
      May 10, 2015 at 8:40 am

      I wondered what those bits were! The heads! Ugh xx

  • Reply
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome)
    May 10, 2015 at 8:50 am

    I think my boys would love the caterpillars but I’m not good with creepy crawlies, it is a lovely idea that they can watch them grow and then set them free. I think maybe I’ll put my fears aside and get some. Lots of lovely little projects to keep your little’s entertained! xx
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome) recently posted…Keep SmilingMy Profile

    • Reply
      May 10, 2015 at 11:03 am

      I have to say, I’ve moved them now into the net and it was a bit freaky, they are safely transferred now though! Xx

  • Reply
    May 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Ooooo I’m with Hayley, I struggle with creepy crawlies I’m afraid. Good luck with it though xx
    Lisa@intotheglade recently posted…My Sunday Photo!My Profile

    • Reply
      May 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Haha they are ok for me, as they don’t have legs (yet!) I find them not too bad. When they are butterflies they are gorgeous too! Xx

  • Reply
    Another Bun
    May 10, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    We’re attempting to grow sunflowers here. The poor things have been trained, hailed and snowed on so far but they do seem determined!
    Another Bun recently posted…#littleloves Mummy Wars and The Big VoteMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rachel - Tenminutesspare
    May 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    These are such fantastic ideas of things to do with the little ones. I particularly like the caterpillars one – there is something so magical about the fact they turn into butterflies. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post.
    Rachel – Tenminutesspare recently posted… Approach to exercise: 8 lessons from a determined toddlerMy Profile

    • Reply
      May 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks Rachel, yes the caterpillars are great fun, although I don’t really like looking at the chrysalis stage so will be relieved when they finally come out! Xx

  • Reply
    May 14, 2015 at 11:41 am

    We’ve got tadpoles at the moment. I love watching them. I think it’s a brilliant idea Jules xxxx

  • Reply
    May 14, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Julia check you out, you have the most amazing zoo right now! You are inspiring me with your enthusiasm and fantastic ideas for children in a quite frankly, crap situation.
    I am going to try that ant farm even though I itch as I type.loving the rebirth and butterflies so much too.

    Most of all, I want to say well done you bird , love your bright beautiful pics that you are capturing during the craziest time that you can share at the hospice and in the future for the children too.
    Praying that Roger has better times soonest and sending the warmest Welsh hugs to you all xxxxxxx

  • Reply
    May 16, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I love the idea of keeping the caterpillars, watching them grow and releasing them when they turn into butterflies, I really want to try this home at some point, the kids will love it! Great photos 🙂 x
    Steph recently posted…Pizza Night with Dr. Oetker RistoranteMy Profile

  • Reply
    Butterflies - Rainbeaubelle
    May 22, 2015 at 5:16 am

    […] few weeks ago we started our project to watch a cup of baby caterpillars transform into butterflies. The last time I wrote, the little family had turned themselves into […]

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