Most people would be bugged to find a caterpillar in their supermarket broccoli, but not Sam Darlaston.
Instead, the British media personality decided to raise it to maturity ― and six others he also found among the broccoli shoots.
Darlaston, a host on KISS FM UK and a vegetarian, discovered the first caterpillar back on June 11 when he started to prepare his favorite vegetable purchased from his local Tesco supermarket.
Darlaston was shocked at first, but that feeling soon turned to joy when he realized he had a new pet to enjoy during lockdown in his London home.
“I did my research initially and discovered the exact type of caterpillar/butterfly we were dealing with (a cabbage white),” he told HuffPost. “I then decided to build him a little home in my lounge with all the broccoli he wanted.”
He gave his new companion the name of Cedric.
Tesco refunded him the $1.37 U.S. for the cost of the caterpillar-infested broccoli. He used it to purchase more veggies and, unexpectedly, got more caterpillars.
“The broccoli I’d got as a replacement contained 5 more,” Darlaston told HuffPost. “And then a 3rd broccoli belonging to my housemate had another one! So 1 became 7 caterpillars overnight!”
He decided to keep them all.
“I’m a firm believer in not harming any animals or insects if possible and I just sort of knew what I had to do after googling how to keep a caterpillar,” he said.
Darlaston named the other members of his buggy brood Broc, Olly, Carlos, Croc, Janine and Slim Eric.
Along the way, he has faced challenges, especially when they started evolving toward their mature state.
“The biggest challenge I faced whilst raising the caterpillars was their love of escaping! Especially when they are about to cocoon,” he told HuffPost. “One day we found one on an ornamental vanilla stick! One under a table and one under a candle holder cocooning! They’d broke free from the paper lid!”
Darlaston also got to see his caterpillar family start to hook up with each other.
He also witnessed them going into the cocoon stage of their life.
But his parents had a hard time accepting his new family.
Still, Darlaston learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of parenthood.
He also became melancholy when he realized they were growing up.
Late last week, six of his seven caterpillars had gone into the cocooning stage.
That necessitated some family photos.
Darlaston said his oldest “child,” Cedric, finally emerged as a butterfly this past weekend.
Eventually, it was time for the older ones to move out.
“I felt a tiny bit sad watching them spread their wings but overall feeling was happiness,” Darlaston told HuffPost. “I’m just happy at least one of us gets to go out during these times.”
Still, the experience has made Darlaston hopeful that he’ll find more creatures in his cruciferous vegetables in the future.
“If I find more I’d 100% do it all again,” he told HuffPost.
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