Friday, August 2, 2013

Lily the Caterpillar

It was just a regular day when SS5 started yelling for me to "come quick and look at this!"  I've learned my lesson with this can be anything from a mess for me to clean up, something that has been on TV a hundred times already, or a giant turd in the toilet.  But this time he was REALLY excited, so I went.
Meet Lily!  

He found a little caterpillar inching across our driveway!  If bugs are in my house, there is no doubt, they must die, but when I find interesting things in the yard, I usually try to just let them be, it is their space after all.  This was so unusual though, so I ran and got a bowl right away!

Those "eyes" are just spots to make her look scary!  

The kiddos had a great time finding grass and sticks and put in with the caterpillar and then we all sat on the front porch played with it while I googled on my phone to find out what it was.

Lily exploring her bowl while we were building her habitat

We discovered that we had a pre-pubal stage Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail!  This was very exciting, because we rarely see these butterflies in our postage stamp suburban back yard.  I do grow lots of perennials and try to create a habitat for wildlife and we get some interesting bugs, but not many caterpillars.  Lots of these guys though...Ugggllllewwwe!

They don't seem to hurt anything, but these giant leopard slugs are just plain ICKY!

We did lots of research to find out as much as we could about our little critter.  The kids wanted to keep her, but I didn't want to agree to this unless we had access to what she eats.  We found out they eat only a few different trees, none of which we have in our neighborhood, with the exception of one magnolia tree in a yard about a block away.  We were off on a bike mission to steal Lily (we decided upon Lily after a half hour of Oscar and 20 minutes of Turbo) some dinner!  Luckily the tree was so big that some branches were hanging over the sidewalk within our reach and also, no one appeared to be home, so that was a plus too!  

Lily trying to escape...I can't imagine why she wouldn't want to be a part of this crazy family!

In our research we found out that this caterpillar has a defensive stance that makes them look like a tiny walrus!  They rear up on their back legs (?) and sway back and forth.  We were really hoping she would get comfy with us, but she kept doing this...


She did finally stop carrying on when we got her all set up in her new habitat.  An old fish tank (last summer's wild life adventure gone bad) worked perfectly.  Then we just watched her crawl around on her magnolia branches for a few minutes and then snuggle up for bed.  Awww!  It was so fun to just enjoy each other and learn all about this cool little creature all night. It was an awesome family activity!

Lily's new home!

"Hi!  I'm Lily!  I'm the cutest lil' larvae you've ever met!"

Lily curled up against a branch for bed, but I think she's starting her chrysalis already, just hours after we found her!

This was taken the next morning after we found her...she is definitely in her chrysalis!  It should take anywhere from 2-24 weeks for her to become a butterfly!

When she hatches, Lily should look like this!

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