Learning From Home - Raising Caterpillars

Monday, December 19, 2016

Many months ago, our kids had a first-hand experience of raising up their first "pet". It all started with a Tussock Moth caterpillar that followed me home in my work bag! Nian has a habit of helping me clear out my bag (any more supportive hubby there? lol) and just before he started, he noticed the little caterpillar crawling gingerly around.

We decided to keep it in a box for the kids to observe... and the entire family went through 2 weeks of caterpillar phase, before one morning, we found out that it was spinning itself a cocoon!

The day before the metamorphosis took place

The cocoon was wrapped up within the leaves and we absolutely couldn't see what was going on. We waited with bated breath for almost a fortnight, when the leaves start to yellow and rot... yet there were no signs of the caterpillar emerging.

With a sad note, we broke the news to the children. Their first caterpillar didn't make it out of the cocoon. 😔 The children were disappointed, of course. We had promised them so much about releasing the moth when it comes out from its cocoon, yet... it didn't quite happen.

Thankfully, with some stroke of luck, we received a new caterpillar from my schoolmate shortly after and boy were we determined to make this work!

Not quite sure if you can see the little crawlie, but this is a Common Mormon caterpillar, often found on citrusy plants like lime, oranges, pomelos or lemons. They also love curry leaves a lot, much to our delight!

Do you know that moth caterpillars generally eat a greater variety of leaves as compared to a butterfly caterpillar? Some butterfly caterpillars can only eat such a small range of leaves, it becomes difficult for them to grow and reproduce due to the shortage of their preferred plants.

The Common Mormon goes through 5 rounds of growth, beginning with a small, spiky look, then slowly evolving to take on a look that resembles bird droppings.. and then finally to something greenish like what we have.

This last stage lasts for about 5 to 6 days, before becoming shorter.. and then the pupa forms!

The green "leaf" is the cocoon that the butterfly left behind
The caterpillar stays inside its cocoon for about 5 days to a week - it takes longer sometimes if the climate is cooler. Our second caterpillar breeding experiment was a success and it was so nice to see Ryan and Dylan releasing the butterfly together!

Would you like to give caterpillar breeding a shot? I found this blog post to be extremely insightful when it comes to raising the Common Mormon Butterfly, but you can also explore the main blog to browse all the butterflies of Singapore that the blog has documented!

I never knew Singapore is the home to so many species of butterflies and moths, it is indeed an eye-opener for both the children and I. It was also a very enriching experience to teach the children more about the beauty of nature, and at the same time spending time bonding with them.


This post is in collaboration with Friso Singapore, where we jot down our Friso Experiences with our children as they grow.

Check out Friso Singapore's Learning and Experiences page to find out on tips to keep your child strong enough for all the learning experiences lined up for them. You can also request samples, and follow Friso Singapore on Facebook to get the latest updates and promotions.

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  1. Looks interesting! But I need to first overcome my fear of anything crawling lol!

    1. Hehehe the caterpillar is usually inside the container so you won't have to handle it with hand!

  2. But u need to place it in first ma lol =X

  3. Your first caterpillar looked a bit scary! Wonder what would have emerged from it. We've tried raising caterpillars a few times too, but only the common lime caterpillar emerged as a pretty butterfly. Your kids look like they had fun learning about caterpillars and butterflies!

  4. This reminds me of my childhood days when we used to do these activity. I will try this with my kids.

  5. I love this "science" project. Better than those tadpoles, guppies and crickets that my kids bring home. Priceless moment when the butterfly flew away.

    cheers, Andy

  6. Beautiful experience it must be to see such transformations. Kids love to do such scientific experiments.

  7. I had a wonderful experience rearing lacewing caterpillars too! So magical to see the whole process. Glad your second one made it!!

  8. Fantastic! My son raised caterpillars as part of his school project and we had the similar experience of one caterpillar not making it out of the pupation stage. It really helps kids to understand how delicate the cycle of life really is!

  9. We recently had 3 and saw all of them transform and flew away. Great to relive those moments thru your post.

  10. I kept creepy crawlies as pets when I was younger too! Love your project! Glad your kids enjoyed the process. This is a wonderful memory for them.

    - Mary H


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