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How to Care for Wooly Worms

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From: Kevin Gillenwater
City:
Crawfordsville, IN
My son is a 9-year old interested in caring for a wooly worm until it's transformation into a moth. This may sound silly, but what do they eat and what is recommended to care for them? He has a small insect cage with netting, but I have no idea as to what they will need to survive.

Thanks Kevin

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Hi,

Wooly bear caterpillars overwinter as larva. In the late summer and fall they tend to prefer to feed on either violets or the weed called lambs quarter so what you can do is provide it with those things to feed on. They then start to look for a place to spend the winter. The other requirement in order for this caterpillar to turn into a moth is cold. The cage that you have would be best if it were covered with some type of metal screen instead of fabric netting. the reason for this is that the cage with the caterpiller inside will need to be buried in the ground next to the foundation of the house and then covered with leaf litter. It needs to be left there over the winter and if in a fabric covered cage rodents might get inside and eat the caterpillar. You can think about buring the cage when the weather starts to get cold. Leave the cage in the ground until about late april or Mid May. dig it up and there should be a pupa inside which will transform into a 1-2 inche white colored moth. Good luck.

 
From: payton engle
City:
sidney, OH
i just found out that wolly worms eat carrots too.they tear them up so good luck with your new wolly worm and be carful not to crush him when cleaning its cage.

 
From: jillian cee
City:
bridgton, NJ
My fuzzy wooly bear liked blue berries..I'm adding carrots today...I used critter care for the bottom of his jar and added twigs inside...I'm extremely excited does anyone know how long they take to become a moth?

 
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