Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Caterpillars With Gothic Nails???

My family is is beginning to get worried about me. I am completely enthralled with caterpillars especially their toenails or are they fingernails?

You have to understand that the caterpillars in our school's butterfly garden is the culmination of years of labor; weeding, mulching, planting, planning. Finally the day arrived when I spotted a female Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly swooping down into the garden and gently floating from leaf to leaf laying one egg here, one egg there. I was so excited even Chaplain Tedder looked at me with disbelief and wonder as I tried to relay to him what I had seen. I guess he's not a believer... in butterflies that is!

Here is what the eggs look like when the butterfly lays them on the fennel plant. These photos were taken at 10X, 60X, and 200X with the amazing QE5 microscope. This is my latest toy and I can't get enough of it. Wait till I show you the worms I photographed! I bet you can't stand the torture of anticipation!!!

Here is a picture I took of a baby just a day or so after hatching. When they first come out they look like tiny black spots crawling on the fennel plants. Please overlook my dirty fingernails and ink stained finger. The important thing here is the caterpillar! This particular caterpillar actually "bit the dust" so to speak. He or she accidentally got crunched or should I say smooshed... Caterpillars are very sensitive.

I know that now.

Here we are looking at another little friend at about 1.5 weeks. He now has those beautiful colorful markings that distinguish him from others of his kind. What you don't see is what is lurking at the top of his head. These are tiny little "horns" (I call them) that look like
orange balloons. When he gets angry they come out and discharge a strange odor that smells something like anise. The kids at school (mostly certain boys) get a kick out of pestering the caterpillars and making their "horns" poof out. Here is a video clip with an example of what they do. Unfortunately I can't make the aroma come along with the video!

Aren't you glad people don't have these
appendages that protrude out when they get mad?? I can see it now...

I burn dinner and my family is sitting at the table staring at me with these strange stinky orange horns.

People are much more dignified about their anger than caterpillars... Maybe if we did have these strange orange "horns" that squirt out horrible odor, we would be much more careful about dealing with our anger. Who wants to walk around looking like that??? In my mind's eye I can see just how ridiculous we would all look with this feature :) Good thing God created us without them.

Here is something neat.

This is an aphid on the back of a caterpillar. You would have never known that it was there but with the handy dandy microscope there it is. It seems like there is a whole unseen world out there when you peer into the lens of a microscope. Better watch what you eat from now on. My son Nathan is a very picky eater. He literally inspects every bite. I doubt that he would ever eat anything again if he could see what is really crawling in and through the food.

Check out this fat mama. She looks like the Goodyear Tire Caterpillar. I absolutely love her toes. Caterpillars are insects therefore they have six legs. Check out these cute toes. And those toe nails!!! Talk about outrageous :) This bug had style long before punk ever became a word!! For some reason the spring caterpillars looks fatter than our fall ones. I will compare them when school starts again.

I can't get enough of those toes...

These are not my toes I want you to know. Caterpillars were into Goth way before people ever dreamed it up. Personally, I prefer the caterpillar black toe nails over the human ones :)

And belly hair...

Pretty soon our friend is going to turn into mush. He/She will form a J shape, harden and become a chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis the body will turn into a strange kind of soup.

I will keep you posted :)


Rachel said...

Oh gosh, Mum, I was just DYING of laughter! That's SO funny!

Just perfect!

The toe-nail pictures are especially appropriate, lol!

WELCOME TO TuttleTime! said...

Wow, this post really "bugs" me. ha! As I read this, I thought of an S.A.T. comparison... Knitting is to Rach as Catepillars are to Mom! You both are obsessed. Ha!

It's cool, though. :) Hope you were able to see the video of Michelle. It's so cute.

Anonymous said...

very nice~

Ellen said...

This post is absolutely AMAZING! The photos are incredible. I loved it! I must say I do not have the same love and admiration for ALL bugs, but I am INCREDIBLY fascinated by caterpillars/butterflies.

I haven't been by in a while... but I have enjoyed catching up on your posts and learning a great deal I can pass on in my future classrooms!

Linda said...

Hello! I love your photos and the butterfly is beautiful. I do like your blog header too, I need a frog one too!

Anonymous said...

Grammy, I have horns on my head, too! They are green horns. Green is my favorite color.