Caterpillar to Butterfly ... The Indian Way

September 14, 2017
  • “The very hungry caterpillar — By  Eric Carle” is a favourite book of mine. The simplicity of the book makes it a favourite read for all the children! Besides teaching kids the numerous concepts such as day & night, weekdays, fruits, counting, healthy food and junk food, it also teaches a wonderful concept of ‘metamorphosis’. Who wouldn’t love it? All of our little parrots at Sproutz know this favourite story about how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.  

    Nothing excites a child more than seeing something in action! That’s why we seek all possible opportunities for “experiential learning” for our kids. Ever since we started Sproutz, I wanted to have my kids experience the metamorphosis. Of course, I have never seen it happen in my lifetime. But, I wanted to show it to my kiddos. I wondered if there is anyone in India that would sell a butterfly kit that comes with the eggs, food, cage and an instruction manual. Needless to say, I am spoilt by the American culture where everything comes pre-packaged and with instructions.



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  • With the pre-packaged option ruled-out, I brainstormed about the naturally available options. When I was growing up, I had the luxury of experiencing village life where we came very close to nature at my grandma’s house. One of the many things about my grandparent’s house is the drumstick tree and the hairy caterpillars ( Gongali purugu/ Kambli poochi)  that it attracts. So, for quite some time, I was wondering where I would find a drumstick tree in this concrete jungle we currently live. But one day, our watchman’s wife was talking about “gongali purugu” and how she is keeping an eye out for them to ensure the safety of our children.Voila! Within few days, the aayah got me the next hairy caterpillar ( gongali purugu) she found.  I was excited as well as nervous at the same time. I was excited at the simple thought of demonstrating the “transformation” to our children. I was anxious about several unknowns: 1. What will this caterpillar eat? 2. Will it survive in the restricted world? 3. Will this hairy caterpillar transform into a moth or a butterfly? 4. What should I tell the kids if it dies?  Our google teacher gave some of the answers and we formulated the rest. Within a day of us getting the caterpillar, it made a cocoon. So, we really couldn’t take a picture or show the kids the caterpillar. We showed them the cocoon and they eagerly waited for it to transform into a butterfly.  The butterfly did hatch in about two weeks but on a Saturday! So, we were able to show only a picture of the butterfly that hatched and not the real one.


  • This whole process has definitely triggered some excitement among some kids, teachers and our watchman couple as well. This time, our watchman found a bunch of “Green Caterpillars”.

    Say hello to our green caterpillars…..

     They are beautiful with vibrant green colour and fun to watch. A quick google search resulted in a decent link that detailed about what can be expected in terms of the transformation:  Raising a butterfly .We showed the images from this website to all our kids and had them correlate with what they are watching at each stage.


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  • Day1: Green Caterpillar (Sept 8th)

    When we found these caterpillars, these caterpillars were bright green. They were almost fully grown. We gave them the leaves from the host plant on which we found them. We gave them a lot of leaves and they ate them all.We kept them in a cardboard box covered with a wire mesh to help with the air circulation. Google research suggested that they thrive on humidity. However, since our atmosphere was already humid we didn’t try to maintain moisture in the box.Within a day, they ate all the leaves. So, we cleaned the box and added fresh leaves again.


  • Day 4: Black Caterpillar (Sept 11th)

    Some caterpillars turned black. They stopped moving. They stayed this way for slightly over a day.


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  • Day 5: Pupa /Chrysalis ( Sept 13th )

    The black caterpillar now pupated and turned into a brown chrysalis. A bunch of these caterpillars went under a heap of leaves and formed into a cluster of chrysalides. These are not visible and we didn’t want to disturb them and cause injury. So, we left them there. We will be watching these for the next few days as we wait for them to transform into the beautiful butterflies. We are eagerly waiting to update this post once the butterflies hatch.


  • Day 17: Pupa /Chrysalis ( Sept 25th )

    Few of the chrysalides turned into a really dark brown colour. So, we are expecting something to happen soon.


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  • Day 18th: Moth ( Sept 26th )

    Overnight, four of these dark brown chrysalides hatched into moths! We were expecting some beautiful butterflies but, we got some “military-camouflage” style moths! Nonetheless, they are something that I have never seen before.  A quick google search revealed that they are called Pandorus Sphinx Moths. Unfortunately, these hatched again during Dussehra holidays and our kids couldn’t see them live.  However, there is still hope. Only four of these hatched. There are few more and we are hoping that the school resumes before they hatch! What a wonderful experience!


  • Few key observations :

    • Kids who are usually naughty also showed extreme restraint in not touching the caterpillars. They were cautious to not touch/shake the box. They eagerly waited for their turn to watch these caterpillars.
    • It has taught us that it is worth taking risks and tread the unchartered waters. For, the reward is totally worth it!!

    Drop a comment and share your thoughts. If you need more details, feel free to reach out to us at : contact[at]sproutzschool[dot]in  We will be happy to share our knowledge. 

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