Meet Stripey

Aug 29, 2014

If there's one thing to know about Maxwell, it is that he is obsessed with bugs. (The mention of bugs has not been neglected in any way on this blog. For additional reading, see: Favorite Bug Books, Even More Bug Books, and Some Bugs.)

A few recent examples will suffice to demonstrate this boy's dedication and devotion to all things creepy and crawly:
  1. At our family reunion last week, Max told my sister she could be his favorite aunt . . . if she would catch grasshoppers with him.
  2. He has been known to say (on several occasions): "Bugs love me. They hear my voice and come to me." The bug-whisperer right here, folks.
  3. A couple of nights ago, there was a fight between the three boys over who got to catch the mayfly that was bouncing its way around our window. Because who wouldn't want to cup a mayfly between your hands? ( . . . not me)
 So yes, Maxwell (and Aaron and Bradley too) love, love, LOVE bugs. Earlier this week, my sister-in-law called to say she'd found several monarch caterpillars in her yard, and would we like one? Of course I couldn't say no.

Max was in love the minute he saw the caterpillar. I, on the other hand, was a little nervous. Did I really want the responsibility of trying to keep a caterpillar alive? Where was I going to find fresh milkweed for him to eat every day? What if the leaves were too big or too mature or too dry for his liking? (Please, if you've kept a monarch caterpillar before, share your tips with me!)

Also, I had no idea how much caterpillars eat. There's a reason there's a book called, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Luckily, another sister-in-law knew about a nearby patch of milkweed, so he's not going to starve. It's kind of crazy to watch him munch away on a big green leaf. He's already grown quite a bit.

Who would have thought I'd be sitting here typing away about my little caterpillar, now known as Stripey? See what four boys have done to me?

P.S. For a little reading on the subject, here are a few books we like:

1. My, Oh My--A Butterfly! by Tish Rabe 2. Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell 3. See How They Grow: Butterfly by Kim Taylor 4. A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston


  1. That's adorable (as is your caterpillar)! I look forward to the ongoing saga of Stripey!

  2. Oh, this is going to be magical! One of my favorite memories from growing up is when we would raise monarch caterpillars. It seems like we put new leaves in once a day, or maybe every other day. If you want or need to take Stripey out, use a small paintbrush and kind of roll it under him or let him crawl onto it. Keep him fed and he should be happy (and stay alive). After several days he's make his chrysalis. I don't think we even cleaned any poop ("frass") out of the bottom, but you can.

    Anyway, my most fond memory of the whole experience was after the butterflies crawled out of their chrysalis'. It took a little while for their wings to dry and fill with fluid, so they would crawl onto our fingers and we would gently wave them up and down. We thought we were teaching them how to fly. :) After a few minutes they would flutter away. I'm excited for your bug-lovin' boys to experience this!

    I've discovered a great book that even tells you how to breed butterflies (if you want to get really ambitious!), but also has a lot of info for just enjoying them and identifying them. It's The Family Butterfly Book, by Rick Mikula.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories and tips, Linnae! I'm definitely going to check out The Family Butterfly Book. Did you ever raise any other kind of caterpillar besides monarch? A couple of days ago, the boys found one of those wooly brown and black ones, but we didn't keep it because I didn't know what it ate or what its cycle was like.

    2. Yes! So, last summer my kids really, really wanted a pet caterpillar, and there were all these green ones munching our broccoli to ribbons in the garden. On the one hand, I knew I would be propagating the pest problem, but on the other, it's not like we were devouring the broccoli ourselves at that point, anyway! Plus, it helped that we were very sure what they liked to eat. :)
      So we raised a cabbage white butterfly. We started out with 2 caterpillars, "Jack and Annie." Same drill. Put them in the jar with a lid that had small air holes poked in the top, put in fresh leaves every other day or so. Annie died. Sad day. But Jack eventually formed a tiny chrysalis that stuck right to the glass. We sort of forgot about him for a couple of weeks, then one morning Jacob (my 6 year old) came running out with the jar in his hand. Sure enough, there was a white butterfly flapping around in there.
      The release was a bit anticlimactic. We went outside, opened the lid, and away it flew. The kids were still excited about it, though.
      I hear you, when it comes to raising an unknown variety. I'm not as enthralled about raising moths. It's unfair, I suppose. But still...

    3. That's awesome! Yes, I agree moths are not as exciting.

      Last night, Stripey attached to the top of the jar, so we are expecting a chrysalis any time now! So exciting!


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