KIDS: Ranger Kirsten's Do Caterpillars Poop

{Spotlight Page Header} In the Spotlight
{Cartoon Drawing of a Caterpillar in School}
  {Cartoon Drawing of a Caterpillar Eating a Leaf}
  {Cartoon Drawing of a Toilet}
Eww…of course they do!  A larva or caterpillar gets very hungry when it hatches out of the egg laid on the plant by the mother butterfly.  As soon as it is born the caterpillar starts munching!  Caterpillars need to eat a lot before going into their pupa or chrysalis stage where they rest before they turn into an adult butterfly.
With all that munching and eating some of the food is not used and needs to come back out.  That part is called frass, or as you may like to call it, poop.
{Picture of a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar on a Stem}
A Monarch Caterpillar on a Swamp Milkweed Plant.
 Photo by Kay Walker
To find caterpillar poop you need to find the kind of plants butterflies laid their eggs upon. The mother butterfly smartly lays the eggs on plants she knows her baby caterpillars will love to eat. If she doesn’t her babies may not survive!  There are many different kinds of butterflies but 2 ones we see a lot in Connecticut are the monarch and the black swallowtail. Monarch butterfly mommies like to lay their eggs on milkweed plants, black swallowtail butterfly mommies lay eggs on plants in the celery family such as parsley.
  {Picture of a Caterpillar Eating a Leaf}
Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a parsley plant. 
 Photo by Kay Walker 
With the help of a grown-up, find the milkweed or parsley plants in your home garden, in a field near where you live or a butterfly garden at a park near you.  Are there any caterpillars munching on the leaves?  Look where the leaf meets the stem and see if you see little brownish-black balls that look like peppercorn.  Ask a grown-up if you don’t know what a peppercorn is.  Better yet, see if the grown-up knows what a peppercorn is!  Those little balls sometimes dozens piled on top of each other are the caterpillar’s poop!
Black Swallowtail – A butterfly found in Connecticut that has long hind wings that look like the tail feathers of a bird called a swallow.
Butterfly – A beautiful flying insect that has antennae, a slim body and often large brightly marked wings.
Frass – The waste, excrement or poop of leaf eating insects.
Larva – The young infant stage of a feeding insect before it undergoes metamorphosis.
Monarch – A butterfly found in Connecticut that has beautiful deep-orange wings with black and white markings.
Peppercorn - The berry of the pepper plant.
Pupa – An insect after it is done feeding, often in a cocoon, before it changes to its new form.
{Picture of Ranger Kirsten}
Photo Kay Walker 
You may ask Ranger Kirsten a nature question through her email
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Content Last Modified on 10/29/2010 9:10:03 AM