Investigating Insects

Yesterday, on our way back from the laundry room, Owen and I spotted a huge moth on the side of one of the air conditioners.  We admired it, without touching, but I really wanted to take some good pictures of it, so I gently helped it onto a stick and carried it home.  When I was done with my pictures, I put the moth on a nearby tree so I could share it with the neighbor kids when they got home.  Conveniently, it must have been trying to sleep because it stayed there the whole day.  Everyone loved looking at it.  After a little research, we discovered it was a Lesser Vine Sphinx.  Look at those eyes!

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Then today, while I was out in the garden, I spotted these three beauties.  They’re Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  Now I really want to raise one in a jar, so Owen can watch the transformation.  He wouldn’t *get* it, but he’d like watching the caterpillar and seeing the butterfly once it emerges.  They were all eating the same thing, and there’s plenty of whatever-it-is in the garden to feed them.  I’ll have to see how expensive a big glass jar would be, and let that be our deciding factor.

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Unfortunately, I now feel the need to add that we have also be investigated by some insects, too.  Owen and I are both covered in bites.  There are fire ants in the garden that need dealt with, and the mosquitoes are getting Owen.  He seems to be really sensitive to them.  Poor baby has big welts on his legs.  If only the investigation were just one way!

Edit: We found a gallon-sized glass terrarium at Michael’s for pretty cheap, so we’ve adopted a caterpillar.  I named him Stickyfeet.  He is currently chrysalizing and looks like this:

001Some interesting thing I’ve learned already:

  • Caterpillars need sleep, but not water, apparently.
  • This particular type of caterpillar, at least, doesn’t spin a chrysalis.  Instead they shed their skin and the chrysalis is underneath!  I didn’t find any old skins, though.

Our caterpillar wanted to eat dill, so we picked a bunch from the garden (where it had volunteered anyway).  It pooped a lot.  Weird little poops that looked almost like donuts, only there was a dent in the middle instead of an actual hole.  *Shrug*  Then it stopped moving and I thought it was dead, but it was just resting before shedding it’s skin.  It’s currently hanging onto a piece of dill by 2 tiny little threads of silk.  And, maybe you noticed in the picture, I’ve had to tape the dill to a stick because it was getting very wilty very quick and I was worried that it wouldn’t support the little guy until he came out again.  So now we wait.  1-2 weeks and we’ll have a butterfly.

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Blurry picture taken through the glass jar.

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Our butterfly came out!  My good friend Rachel and her son Luke were here for a play date and she was the one who noticed.  She also snapped some good pictures.  It was so exciting.  The little guy was trying really hard to climb out of his jar, so I let him crawl onto my finger where he stayed all while we took him outside and showed him off to the neighbors.  Later, Owen and I watched him fly away.

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Here’s what his chrysalis looks like now. I kept glancing at the jar and seeing this and thinking he was still in it!

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