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Islington man finds caterpillars on supermarket broccoli and sets them free as butterflies

PUBLISHED: 19:36 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 19:44 27 June 2020

Sam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam Darlaston

Sam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam Darlaston

Sam Darlaston

An Islington man has delighted the nation with his tale of raising caterpillars and releasing them as butterflies.

Sam Darlaston, 27, a presenter for Kiss FM UK, found a caterpillar - a cabbage white - on his Tesco-bought broccoli on June 11.

After checking it was suitable for the UK, because the broccoli was grown in Spain, he welcomed Cedric to his Finsbury Park home.

Returning to the supermarket, he spotted five caterpillars on a replacement broccoli and newbies Broc, Olly, Carlos, Croc and Janine joined the lounge container filled with broccoli. A seventh was found the next day and Slim Eric, “the baby one”, is the last to fly the nest.

The Twitter thread documenting his caterpillar-raising and the releasing of the butterflies has been shared and liked nearly 100,000 times.

Sam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam DarlastonSam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam Darlaston

Sam told the Gazette he is “honestly stunned” by the reaction.

“It’s just so weird but I think 2020 needed this kind of fun news,” he said. “I think that’s why people are so on board with it.

“Especially because now the butterflies are going free, while we’re all still locked in.”

As a presenter for Kiss FM and E4, Sam is used to doing the questioning and has previously interviewed the likes of Colin Firth, Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kravitz. He said he was delighted to appear on Jeremy Vine’s show on BBC Radio 2 - and to release Broc and Olly live on air.

Sam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam DarlastonSam Darlaston found caterpillars on broccoli bought from Tesco, and later released them as butterflies. Picture: Sam Darlaston

Tesco refunded him £1.10 for the three broccolis, but Sam insists he is grateful to the supplier and that he feels encouraged to buy more fruit and veg.

“I’ve had pets all my life,” he said. “I’ve always loved animals, I used to have a hamster at uni called Norris. I had dogs but never caterpillars.”

With a passion for the environment and a talent for entertaining, Sam says he would love to move into wildlife presenting one day.

As for the butterflies, he said: “If there’s a broccoli farm somewhere nearby, I hope they’re there. Or maybe an allotment in Islington.”

Asked how he feels about being imminently empty-nested, Sam said: “With each and every day it’s got a bit more emotional.

“Because I’m the youngest child, I understand how my mum felt when I went to uni now.”


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