Try this at home! Find and raise your own caterpillars. I found these lovely Variegated Fritillary caterpillars in my yard (southern MD) and didn’t know what kind they were. The best part of raising caterpillars is the thrill of discovery!
I found these caterpillars on our violet plants.
Here it is munching down on a violet leaf.
Find your own:
If you want to find fritillary caterpillars, you will want to look on the plants which they love to eat. In this case: violets, pansies, passion flowers, flax, stonecrop, moonseed, and plantain. I found these on violet plants.
Make a home:
See my post on making a metamorphosis observatory.
Bring in some of the plant you found your caterpillar on. Give it new food as it eats up the old. The vase should have water in it to keep the plant yummy for the caterpillar but you don’t want the caterpillar to drown in the water, so use a vase with a narrow neck.
I allow plenty of violets to grow around my house. The larvae (the caterpillars) of the variegated fritillary as well as other fritillaries feed on violet plants.
You might not even think about it but when you landscape your yard and get rid of all the native plants, you are also getting rid of food for native insects. If there are no bugs (including caterpillars), then birds etc. don’t have anything to eat. Native insects need native plants!
This is the chrysalis of the variegated fritillary. It has beautiful gold spots.
Here is a variegated Fritillary butterfly that we raised.