Saturday, 27 August 2011

Caterpillar update and Cinnabar Moth

Whilst I was hanging out the washing I noticed a very stripy black and orange caterpillar on the grass, it looked like a shaving of wood from a distance and I haven't seen one like this before. I asked the children to Google it and its a Cinnabar Moth, which was what Hubby found at the side of the road a few months (will try and find the photo) they are really beautiful moths, with really bright colours. According to Wikipedia they often starve to death because they eat so much and run out of food. They eat Ragwort, which we don't have in our garden, so we let it go on its way.
 The caterpillar house was starting to look rather disgusting and all but 3 caterpillars had turned into pupae so we decided it was time to clean it up. It was very, very difficult to remove all the pupae but it can't have been doing them any good being amongst all the poo etc that was in there and whilst we had been putting it outside, as it smelt awful, some ants had gotten and were eating some of the pupae, so it really was important to get them out. Bailey and I donned some plastic gloves and set to work. I wish I had a photo of Bailey because he did a really good job and we had such a laugh doing it but we were a little busy for photo's. After transferring the pupa too a plastic tub we put the 3 live caterpillars left in another tub with some fresh leaves.
 Bailey took this photo of the pupae in the plastic tub
 We then washed the butterfly house in hot soapy water and let it dry on the washing line for half an hour.

 After it had dried and looked about a million times better we began putting all the pupae back into the house. Piper sat with a tally chart as we weren't quite sure how many we had. Whilst Ruben helped me put them carefully back into the house.

The silk that they spin (am presuming its silk but not 100% sure) is really, really strong and they still had some of this yellow egg-like stuff stuck to them and their caterpillar heads, so it was a very precarious job. Still by the time we had finished there was 64 pupae in the now very clean/not smelly butterfly house. I really hope we haven't damaged then in any way and it would be lovely if we got 64 butterflies to release. Bailey pointed out that it was unlikely all 64 of them would have survived in the wild, so lets keep our fingers crossed. They are now being constantly watched so we can release them as soon as possible.


  1. Did you get the caterpillars from anywhere special or did you just collect them? We tried to keep a cinnabar moth caterpillar and watch it pupate, but it died :(

  2. Hi Kirsty! We collected them from one of our cauliflower leaves this year. Cinnabar moths are VERY hard to keep apparantly? Might have to see if I can get one online like the caterpillars we bought last year?