Every spring my preschool class plants parsley seeds with the hope that we’ll have black swallowtail butterflies in the fall. Black swallowtail butterflies inhabit most regions of the United States (except the northwest).
Today’s post is written by Bren, a contributor to PreKinders.
We plant the parsley seeds in a big pot and put it in a sunny spot in the yard, watering it occasionally. In September, we start looking for tiny caterpillars. When they are between a half-inch and an inch long we set up a cage for them and move them inside. If you wait for them to get much bigger birds will get them (we know from personal experience).
Fill a small plastic cup with water and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber band to secure and poke a few small holes in the top (the plastic wrap keeps the caterpillars from falling in the water and drowning). Stick some parsley from your plant through the holes. To move the caterpillars to the cage, cut the piece of parsley they’re on close to the base of the plant and stick the stems through the holes.
Over the next few weeks the caterpillars will eat and grow. You can get additional parsley from the grocery store if necessary, making sure to wash it thoroughly. Always make sure there’s water in the cup.
When you notice that the caterpillars are devouring the parsley faster than before, it’s a sign that they are about to make their chrysalis. They will attach themselves to the top of the cage and in a week or so you’ll have butterflies. We always release them as soon as their wings are dry.
Find more Bug Activities for Pre-K on the category page.