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!