Adventures in Caterpillar Babysitting

We live by a large outdoor mountain park where I like to run.  A few weeks ago, I saw literally hundreds of green caterpillars while jogging.  HUNDREDS!  A few days later, they had made their way to our backyard- in the pool, in the yard, on the toys.  After I grumbled for a few days about being infested with caterpillars, I kind of became fascinated with them, largely because my boys would not stop playing with them.  We got a plastic jar, and found the last two in our yard.  We are now trying to hatch them.

They are white lined sphinx caterpillars, and will grown into white lined sphinx moths.  I read they migrate to search for softer soil to burrow into to form their chrysalises.  Who knows if it is accurate, but the site I googled suggested putting about five inches of moist potting soil in the jar for them to dig into.  Did that, but they don’t seem to be digging.  Anyone know how long it will take?  So far, the only things they seem to eat are these yellow flowers, which I have no idea what they are, but they sure dig them.  They eat 4-5 in the morning and at night.  Hoping we don’t run out of flowers!


It was pretty cute the other night when Liam refused to set the jar down, and sat holding it while watching E.T. The Extraterrestrial.  Brought me right back to my childhood growing up in the country, capturing all kinds of things in jars, so we could watch them.  My siblings and I always let them go after a day or two.  I’ve never tried to hatch anything.  Maybe the closest I came was watching the neighbor’s cat give birth to kittens.

Hoping we have good luck- I don’t want to kill them or make them miserable.  Anyone who has care tips, let me know!


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