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The caterpillars moved in with us at the beginning of July!

Together with the children, the stage of development is observed and documented with the help of the “butterfly clock”.

The caterpillars, which are completely different from the moths, also feed quite differently. Usually the eggshell is eaten first after hatching. The caterpillars of most butterfly species feed on leaves, needles, flowers, seeds or fruits of various plants, whereby many species are specialized and dependent on certain plants.

Very exciting – and less well known than the “transformation” of the caterpillar is the fact that some caterpillars live in symbiosis with other animals – at least in part:

The caterpillars of some butterfly families live in symbiosis or as social parasites with ants. In Central Europe, some caterpillars of the blue ants live together with scale and knot ants. The caterpillar secretes a sugary liquid from glands on its back. This attracts ants, which do not kill the caterpillar, as is usually the case with small insects, but only collect the sweet liquid and protect the caterpillar. The ants drum on the caterpillar’s back with their legs to stimulate the production of the sweet liquid. In the last caterpillar stage, they drag the caterpillar into their burrow. Here it takes on the odor of the ants. It no longer lives symbiotically with the ants, but acts here as a social parasite and feeds on the brood and is also fed by the ants, as it begs in the same way as the ants’ brood. Although it continues to secrete a sugary liquid, this is disproportionate to the damage suffered by the ants. It pupates in the burrow and overwinters depending on the season. This means that these butterflies are among the few that can survive in areas heavily colonized by ants.

From caterpillar to butterfly

In the meantime, we have already been able to turn the butterfly clock one caterpillar further, as the animals have grown a lot in a very short time. It remains exciting for everyone to watch the transformation – the metamorphosis – of the caterpillar into a butterfly. We eagerly await the “pupation” of the caterpillar: the stage when the caterpillar has become a “chrysalis” in order to complete its process of metamorphosis.

Once the caterpillar has grown up, it begins to pupate by shedding its skin for the last time. The metamorphosis to butterfly then takes place. In the process, the caterpillar organs are degraded or reshaped and transformed into moth organs and the entire external appearance of the animals also changes.

3 butterflies on a blue flower in the farm daycare center - research for children

Photo by Karina Vorozheeva via Unsplash or from the farm daycare team, source of the quotes: Wikipedia