21 Feb

“It’s Chrysalising!” (said my son)

For anyone still anxiously awaiting caterpillar news, it’s good! I’ve been keeping a close watch on the last caterpillar standing. I’ve noticed interesting behavior too. You’d probably expect a caterpillar to just go randomly about a tree munching anything in it’s path. Nope. Ours seems to have found a favorite leaf to call home (large and relatively sheltered from sun and wind) and then it goes out on food forays, systematically eating all the leaves on a branch. Once satiated each day, it returns to the home leaf for a rest before venturing out again for the next leaf on the branch. Here’s how it looked shortly after I last blogged:

Yesterday, I noticed that it had left it’s home leaf, but instead of heading out for a bite to eat, it worked it’s way down the tree and onto the stem of a ceramic flower I had “planted” in the pot.

Since it had turned from poopy to green in less than four hours, I expected this change to happen rather quick too and watched closely. Over the course of the day, it seemed to compress. It also spit up a little silk sling to hold itself in place, and “let go” of the wire stalk.

And that was it. Instead of a chrysalis this morning, it looked just the same. I admit I was disappointed. However, I think it’s metamorphosis may be temperature dependent. As a sort of aside, my son mentioned this morning that caterpillars have the chrysalis inside them and must shed their outer skin to expose it. Hmmm. I’m not sure where he learned that, but when we returned from shopping mid-day (and the yard was nice and sunny), the caterpillar was wriggling wildly and indeed seemed to be pushing something down it’s body. We were witness to the last bit:

And something definitely did drop off the end of the chrysalis:

And now we have a beautiful, still, chrysalis which will hopefully become an equally beautiful butterfly.

To be continued…

11 Feb

Seven Blogs in One!

I’ve looked back on my recent entries and see that there is very little art quilting/creative journey posting going on here. Of course, life in general is part of the creative journey, so think of this as quilting/artful life/cute crafting/travelogue/food/cute grandkids/botany blogs all rolled into one.

Today is “Bug Blog Day.”

The chrysalis still hasn’t “hatched,” and I’m doubting it ever will. We did however find three more small caterpillars and two eggs on the tree.

Over the course of a few days the eggs hatched and we saw one teensy teensy caterpillar. Unfortunately, of those five, only one remains. I guess birds or other bugs have to eat too. I decided I needed to intervene and make the whole tree into a caterpillar box with some tulle yardage I had. It looks like this now (note blooms sticking out to encourage more butterflies):

My fingers are crossed that this last caterpillar makes it to butterfly stage. I did see three different types of butterfly pass through our yard this morning, so prospects are good.

20 Jan

A Gift

Two days ago, Neighbor Girl brought me a gift. Actually, she said it was for all of us — I just get to be the keeper. She found a chrysalis in her yard!

I am unclear as to whether or not she plucked it off a plant or not. She made it sound like it was just sitting there. Regardless, I am apparently the keeper of the all things caterpillar and she brought it to our house on a Styrofoam “platter.” It is smaller than our caterpillar who went missing in the wind storm, so I’m not sure if this is the same caterpillar, relocated, or if it’s a caterpillar previously unknown to us. I have been sworn to watch over the chrysalis and to alert all neighbor kids to the butterfly as soon as it emerges. For lack of any better spur-of-the-moment ideas, it has been ensconced under a protective dome and our collective fingers are crossed that we’ll see a butterfly in about 10 days.

This is my little contribution to hope and change on this auspicious day.

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!