11 Jan

Oh Poop!

There’s some weird shit around here. First I saw what I assumed was an old cocoon on our little mandarin orange tree.

Fine — I’ll take a few munched leaves if it gets me a butterfly. Then, a few days later, I saw a new cocoon, PLUS a caterpillar.

My first reaction was, “Wow, that’s sure an audacious guy, not even trying to hide, but I guess he can because he sure looks just like bird poop.”

The next day, there was another poopy caterpillar and the cocoon had hatched. The butterfly was nowhere to be seen, but I had to figure out what they were so I Googled the less than colorful words: “caterpillar, hawaii.” Waddya know, after a little searching, I actually found listings referencing poop, turd, and “bird shit caterpillar“.

From our research, we learned that the poop-like caterpillar changes to a prettier green version. Guess what? The next day, the larger of our two turds turned into this:

So, ours are specifically Chinese Yellow Swallowtails. The bad news is the exterminator was due to come and spray (something I’m very conflicted about, but the homeowner pays for it, and as the newbie here, I’m reluctant to mess with his house too much). The good news is that our orange tree is in a container — so I brought it (and the worm bin) indoors for the afternoon. The neighbor kids came over to play so we showed off our new “pets.” Girl neighbor was curious and touched the green caterpillar — Yellow things popped out of it’s head!! Back to the computer and we learned that these are not antennae, but osmeterium which are scent glands that supposedly give off a smell birds don’t like.

We also learned that the cocoon is called a chrysalis, or pupa, and should “hatch” a butterfly in about ten days. I was hoping to post the whole cycle here, but we’re just too excited. Green guy #1 has about tripled in size and #2 is catching up. Hopefully we’ll have chrysalis to show soon!

9 thoughts on “Oh Poop!

  1. I’m sorry, I can’t help laughing at a “bird poop” caterpiller! Isn’t nature fascinating–and uncivilized all at once? I hope you can manage to get a picture of the butterfly. If it looks like some form of excrement I will be very disappointed.

  2. Anyone who has observed the seemingly random but actually connected creative process of how we say get to a final idea for a quilt and who also believes in creation has to have a good time imagining how God arrived at a birdpoop catterpillar!

  3. This was the best post I have read this morning as I go through the 81 posts on my google reader. Fascinating! Thanks for the biology/entomology lesson.

  4. wow..it really likes the mandarin orange leaves. Hope you get to see the whole evolution. That’s what comes of living in a garden. Super botany lessons.

  5. *waaaaahhhh* this ist quite exiting AND funny. the green fellow is so cute! i’m curious to see which beauty will become out of it.

  6. That little green thing will make a beautiful butterfly. We used to raise Monarch butterflies when my kids were small in Hawaii. We would find a caterpillar on a bush and watch it change (in a specially built cage) until it burst forth. Usually while the kids were at school. The last time we had one almost ready (and school was still in session) I put it in the fridg until the kids came home and then let it warm up in the sun and finish its metamorphosis.

Comments are closed.