What would you do if you bought some broccoli and found caterpillars living in it? Ask the store for a refund? Raise the critters as your children? Document it all and post the story on the Internet? British media personality Sam Darlaston did all of the above.

The host of KISS FM UK and a vegetarian “met” the first caterpillar on June 11th when he started to prepare his favorite vegetable purchased from a local Tesco supermarket. At first, he was shocked but that feeling quickly disappeared when he realized he had a new pet to enjoy during the lockdown in his London home.

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“I did my research initially and discovered the exact type of caterpillar/butterfly we were dealing with (a cabbage white),” Darlaston told HuffPost. “I then decided to build him a little home in my lounge with all the broccoli he wanted.”

The small, or European, cabbage white (Pieris rapae) was introduced to North America c. 1860 and is one of the most common white butterflies on the continent. It has white or cream-colored wings with small black dots and lays its eggs singly on leaves. The large cabbage white (P. brassicae) is found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It rocks large black spots with a black band on the tip of its white wings and lays its eggs in characteristic clusters. Both species are considered to be major economic pests and can locally decimate cabbage and other crops. So as you can imagine, running into Darlaston was pretty much the best outcome this little buddy could’ve hoped for.

Tesco refunded him the $1.37 for the caterpillar-infested broccoli, and Sam used the money to buy more veggies and, unexpectedly, got more caterpillars. “The broccoli I’d got as a replacement contained 5 more,” Darlaston said. “And then a 3rd broccoli belonging to my housemate had another one! So 1 became 7 caterpillars overnight!”

After Darlaston shared his caterpillar story on Twitter, it instantly went viral, generating over 92K likes and 51K retweets. All of this hype got Tesco’s — the groceries and general merchandise retailer where Sam bought the broccoli — attention as well. However, the best part of this story isn’t the refund. Rather, the metamorphosis that gave life to a bunch of very handsome butterflies.

“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 explained his choice to keep the little buddies. Taking care of them was no easy task and Sam faced quite a few challenges, especially when the caterpillars 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. “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!”

But Darlaston got everything under control and is now a proud father of fully-grown butterflies. Like a good father should, after he prepared his kids for the big world, the man let them free. “I felt a tiny bit sad watching them spread their wings but the overall feeling was happiness,” Darlaston said. “I’m just happy at least one of us gets to go out during these times.”

“If I find more, I’d 100% do it all again.”

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The story got so popular, it even attracted Tesco’s attention

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And people absolutely loved it

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