Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar Hatches

This was quite a year for Eastern tent caterpillars, and Will, especially, just reveled in them. She held them, she let them crawl on her while reading or doing schoolwork, she lost them in the house and then rediscovered them crawling across the kitchen table or on someone's shoulder (sigh), she built habitats for them to watch them eat and cocoon, she wrote about them in her journal, she showed her friends how she could gently put her hand inside a tent and pet the hundreds of caterpillars inside, she bravely defended them to adults who griped about them being pests--"Actually," Will would always speak up, her reticence about speaking to adults forgotten in defense of her caterpillars, "Eastern tent caterpillars are native to this region. They won't kill trees."

Finally, after the entire caterpillar season was over--after many caterpillars were helped across streets and parking lots, after many caterpillars were brought inside to play before being taken back to their trees, after a jar filled with leaves and twigs and several caterpillar cocoons was left out in a rainstorm and drowned, to much devastating grief and guilt--Will found herself with one last Eastern tent caterpillar, one last chance to love it, feed it, give it a safe place to cocoon inside her kid-made bug barn, and raise it to an adult.

She hatched this weekend:

I didn't realize that the moths would be so pretty! This one is female, and she was so cutely fuzzy. Look at her feathery antennae!

They're nocturnal, which I suppose explains why I've never seen them before, and the females also have a very short lifespan, so we got this one back into her environment as soon as possible so that she could eat, mate, and give the kids some more babies to love on next year.

Will is a little sad that there aren't any more Eastern tent caterpillars around to love, but at least she has a good three dozen tadpoles in a glass aquarium out on the back deck to comfort herself with.


Tina said...

I want to come play at your house. Your girls get to do all the cool things :0)

julie said...

They do tend to keep themselves busy! I also know for a fact that your kiddo gets herself up to some amazing adventures, too.

Tina said...

You are right, she does. Thanks for the reminder because lately it doesn't feel like we do much other than argue and sleep.

Actually, she is out hiking with her friend and their family right now while I am suppose to be doing school work...

cake said...

such a sweet story. definitely makes me look at those pests in a new light. they like to eat a particularly nasty invasive weed in my yard, so i appreciate them for that, and try to relocate any that i find to that area.

julie said...

I guess now you know that you can also relocate them to our house, too!

I'm curious--what invasive do they eat? I'm sure we have it in our yard, too, but I probably don't know what it is.