Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caterpillar Diaries: Days 8-11

On day 8 the smallest caterpillar took a turn for the worse. When I cleaned the habitat I may have disturbed it too much (it really didn't want to leave the side of the jar--maybe it was molting), or maybe it was just not doing well anyway. Part of the time it wandered aimlessly around the jar, but mostly it just lay there. It seemed to be shrinking (these guys normally eat A LOT) and was dead by the next day. I hope it's not my fault.Above is a caterpillar on day 8. Notice how it's not spiky anymore. It's black with yellow spots and thin bands of green. Here's one the next day. Yes, it's grown, but it's not a giant--that's Becca's hand. Notice the three pointy legs near the head; it has 6 real legs. There are 4 sets of puffy prolegs farther back, which it uses for holding on to sticks or parsley stems (or fingers!).This is a day 11 picture. Now the green stripes are becoming more prominent. Soon it will look like a green caterpillar with black stripes. Look at its size next to the parsley leaves and compare to one of the first photos (below). Wow!
Below is a photo of "the guys" in their refreshed habitat this morning. I'll try to get a picture tomorrow to show just how much these four little piggies can eat. I'd really like a movie showing them eating--it reminds me of vertical corn-on-the-cob munching--but it's hard to focus through the jar. (BTW, if you look closely you can see 3 of the 4 in their "jungle". Try clicking on the picture to enlarge it.)
This year we are studying flying creatures in science, so we've jumped ahead several chapters to follow our up close and personal insects. We keep these guys on the school table or island and so observe them throughout the day. Marianna and Joe are also doing some narrating and drawing.

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