Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crazy for Caterpillars

Okay, perhaps I am obsessed! We didn't have caterpillars last year, so I am enjoying and nurturing this "crop" all the more.

Check out these little guys: Another picture trying to show perspective. That is my pinky fingernail.
You know how birders keep a "life list" of all the species they have seen? There are only a few moments of the Eastern Black Swallowtail's life cycle that I have been waiting to catch. This week I found one--an egg!It fits the description--round and creamy white. I thought it was supposed to be under the leaf, but this spot where the leaflets join must be almost as good.Under the stereoscope we could see the flatter area where the egg was glued to the leaf.
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I brought it inside, hoping to find a baby caterpillar later to prove this egg is what I think it is. So far, nothing has hatched. I do have confirmation from another quarter, though:Yes, that's a larva next to a mostly eaten leaflet with a lighter egg on it. When we looked at this egg at 40x, we could see the hole made when the caterpillar emerged. The egg is a lighter color because it is empty.The final moment I've been hoping to catch is the butterfly actually emerging from its chrysalis. We've come very close, but not close enough. Maybe this spring . . .
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And now I've thought of one more thing (isn't there always one more thing?) to add to my wish list. It would be amazing to watch a butterfly lay her egg. I have no illusions of accomplishing that, however.
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Have a great weekend. Go outside!

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