The first native species; Large white

Eitjes koolwitje

Large White eggs

The animal species I’ve photography so far for Development were either classic pets or species that are not native to the Netherlands. The difficulty with our ‘own’ animals, is that many of them are protected by law and you are not allowed keep them in captivity. Fortunately, I found a native species that I can photograph for my project; a Great white butterfly.

Butterfly association

At the end of last summer, an ecologist of the Dutch state organization for forest management, Staatsbosbeheer, mentioned the ‘Great white classroom’ project of the Dutch butterfly association. They breed these butterflies and created a kit with some eggs, caterpillars and pupae for elementary schools. Normally, private persons, like myself, can’t order this kit, but because of my project, they were willing to make an exception. There was a small chance, that I could start right away, but all the kits were spoken for, so I had to wait until the next spring.

Pesticide free cabbage plants

That gave me some time to prepare, because I needed the feed the caterpillars. They eat cabbage plants and especially like pointed cabbage. After the problems with the Calvisia marmorata stick insect, I knew I had to pay extra attention to buying cabbage that is pesticide free, so it’s safe for the caterpillars to eat. But where do you find pesticide free cabbage plants? Through Facebook, I found a plant-breeder/small garden center in my town where they sell vegetable plants. I was the first customer ever who wanted to buy plants as food for caterpillars and they were a bit puzzled, because normally you don’t want bugs eating your plants. Just to make sure, they were nice enough to check with the manufacturer of the cabbage plants (that was really kind of them) and it turned out that the plants were save, so I bought 8 small cabbage plants.

Supermarket cabbage

A few days later, I received the Large white kit, containing 5 pupae, around twenty caterpillars and a fairly large amount of eggs. I put the pupae in a special butterfly enclosure, that I bought earlier and gave the caterpillars some fresh cabbage leaves from my garden. It turned out that they were very hungry and I quickly realized that my cabbage plants were way too small for their appetite. So I had to find some pointed cabbage and it had to be biological and pesticide free. I couldn’t find this kind of cabbage in the supermarkets in my town and even the grocery store for vegetables didn’t sell biological cabbage. Fortunately, the village nearby, Capelle a/d Ijssel, has a very large supermarket and there I could by the cabbage I needed. The caterpillars are doing well and they will probably pupate soon, so now I’m waiting for the eggs to hatch in order to start documenting their development.

Rupsen van het Groot Koolwitje


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