Very Hungry Caterpillars

In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.

Or rather, dozens of eggs lay on several leaves.

One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and–pop!–out of the eggs came dozens of tiny and very hungry caterpillars.

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Our once-lush swan plants, circa a couple weeks back.

Actually, I’m not sure it was a Sunday. And they probably didn’t all emerge the same day. But boy, were they ever hungry. They proceeded to eat everything in sight.

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Our swan plants today, along with the chunks of squash/pumpkin we’re trying to get the remaining caterpillars to eat.

OK, that’s not true either. These were monarch caterpillars, which are rather picky. They did eat all the leaves from our two swan plants. And then the smaller branches. And then they began to jump ship to look for other things to eat.

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A chrysalis.

Tommy is very interested in the caterpillars, although also terrified of them (also of butterflies. Also of cats and dogs. Also people dressed in costumes. I could go on). He knows that they eventually spin chrysalises and then emerge as butterflies (thank you, Eric Carle[1]).  He wants to see some metamorphosis, already! And I’m not ready to try to explain what happened to the caterpillars if they all die. So my lovely neighbour mentioned that you can feed monarch caterpillars pumpkin/squash, and we’re giving it a shot. Apparently it can produce deformed butterflies if they start eating it when they’re too small. I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen.

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Another chrysalis in the making.

Anyway, so far we have two chrysalises, and another that’s being spun at the moment. Unfortunately, they seem to be suspending them from the edge of the pot, rather than from the few remaining branches, and one of them has fallen off.

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Tommy, in his Hungry Caterzilla t-shirt (on Monday, he ate through one skyscraper, but he was still hungry).

Fingers crossed, we’ll get at least one (properly formed) butterfly!


  1. I was until recently under the impression that caterpillars spun cocoons, for which I blame Eric Carle and his Very Hungry Caterpillar. They don’t, for the most part, they spin chrysalises. So then I was annoyed with Eric Carle for teaching so many of us the wrong word. But then I found this entry on his website, and so I’m pleased that he addresses the issue so well.
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