Monday, June 09, 2008

Breaking News: Science and Nature Department

I was backing out of the driveway last week, taking the kids to the library. I noticed something black on the side of the house. I was pretty far away, but it looked like a very big caterpillar (you know we are into caterpillars), but it was also possible that it was just a leaf.

I stopped the car and told the kids I needed to investigate. Upon closer inspection, it was a caterpillar! It was a big, black, spikey caterpillar with brown spots. We abandoned our library plans and went inside to get a jar. While I was poking holes in the peanut butter jar lid with a hammer and nail, I noticed another one crawling across the garage floor. The exact same kind! What are the odds? We haven't seen a caterpillar in ages--let alone two of the same kind, at the same time. So we put them both in the jar.

We went outside to get some leaves and sticks for their home. And what do you know, but here comes another one crawling across the driveway.

Yes, at this point, I was feeling a little freaked out. Invasion of the caterpillars?! Three freaky, black, spikey, caterpillars.

So we went in to identify them on the internet. It took about 30 seconds to identify our caterpillars and see what kind of butterflies they would turn into. (I breathed a sigh of relief that they would be a beautiful butterfly and not a scary kind of moth!) We also learned that they stay together on their host tree (Elm) until they are full grown, and then go traveling off at the same time to find a place to make their chrysalis.

No wonder they were all there at the same time! And our guys were all brothers and sisters! How exciting!

(Sophie is not crying. She is "taking pictures for the blog". My girl.)

So, we went back out to find the Elm tree, which was right next to our driveway--makes sense--and, there came another little guy crawling across the driveway! So, then we had four. And I told the kids to keep and eye out on the driveway for more, and that's when I found another one on the house. Five.

I was concerned about the amount of room, and the amount of air, to be honest, in the peanut butter jar, so we put them in the garage and continued on our mission to the library, and also to find a suitable house to keep them comfortable.

We stocked up on butterfly literature at the library and found a fabulous caterpillar condo at the toy store. When we got back, we transferred our friends from the crowded peanut butter jar into the condo, and added a nice amount of sticks and elm leaves.

I told the kids to make one last scan of the area for any more. All of a sudden, Sophie started yelling at the top of her lungs. She was so excited that, at first, I couldn't understand what she was saying. She was pointing at the side of the porch, screaming "I see another friend! I see another friend!!!!" She was over the moon with joy.

Final count: six. Group photo.

I made a diagram of where they were all found, for posterity. I mean, what are the odds that we happened to be on the driveway at the exact moment that the little guys made their move? I went out several times later that day and the next, and I never found any more. I feel incredibly lucky that we were in the right place at the right time!

I put their house on the dining room table. I will admit, it was a little creepy to watch them while we were eating dinner, all crawly and spikey and everything. They were extremely active that afternoon and evening. Then, the next morning when we came downstairs, they were all in their j position, hanging completely still, upside down from sticks or from the ceiling of the house.
The next day was pretty exciting, as we waited for chrysalis making. I was gone in the evening, when they made their chrysalises, but the kids got to see it. Now they are all tucked in, and our waiting begins.

In crafting news, Emily's Totebag Factory is running full tilt.

Many totebags were gifted in the month of May. Teachers were hugged. Tears were shed.

These (above) were made from my dishtowel totebag tutorial and my stash of Crate and Barrel dishtowels that I bought last year. Love the cherries. Wish they had that same vintage-looking dish towel this year.

The one below was from two black and grey towels Crate and Barrel has this year.

This is the same bag above and below. It's reversible.

Then I ran out of towels and had to make one from fabric (imagine!) This is upholstery weight fabric (Veronique by Alexander Henry) lined with black cotton duck, and the straps are black twill tape webbing.

I put the tutorial in my sidebar. I am finishing up a couple more for myself and the kids, so brace yourself for more totebag deliciousness later this week.

I'll be back tomorrow with a shop update announcement. This month is my two year yarn-dyeing anniversary, and I have some special goings-on over on etsy!


Blogger rohanknitter said...

Cool! We have milkweed nearby so we look for monarch caterpillars and "raise" a couple every year. I think the whole thing is just amazing. I'll be curious to see pics of the butterfly when they emerge!

ps. great tote bags!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

what fun for the kids. And the tote bags are great.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Love the tote bags!

1:33 AM  
Blogger Carole Knits said...

It's cool but also creepy, I can't help it. LOL
Can't wait for that shop update!

5:47 AM  
Blogger Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

I never KNEW they made caterpillar condos! How cool and exciting for the kids to watch all of this happening. It's going to be really exciting to see them emerge as butterflies. Do you know about how long it will take? Mark the calendar so everyone will be watching when it might be happening.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Pat DeLeeuw said...

Oh Pooh, I was in Virginia taking care of Granddaughter without my e-mail and missed Tuesday night! Hope there is more soon!!

6:30 PM  

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