This little baby is the last caterpillar on a rose bush that contained about sixteen snoozing babies two weeks ago. The caterpillars stay very still and sleep in dogballs (or maybe dogs sleep in caterpillarballs?) during the day so as not to be spotted by a bird's eye, and they munch, munch, munch at night to fatten up for each molting stage! I guess the other 15 weren't as stealthy in their sleep habits.
When Peanutman was in kindergarten, we happened upon a large, heavy cocoon on the ground, which was attached by a thread to a broken branch. I really didn't think it was viable, but we wanted to set it up and keep an eye on it just in case. We did some research and learned that a moth's or butterfly's wings can become damaged if their cocoon is left lying on a hard surface. We bought a little aquarium at the pet shop and managed to suspend the branch over the edges so the cocoon could hang freely.
J took it to school every single day and brought it home every single night for a week, in case there was any action. On the last day, he took forever getting off the bus, walking ever-so-gingerly down each step. When he got to the bottom, he had a wide and proud grin as he hoisted the aquarium up into the air to show me what was inside: a huge polyphemus moth! To think that those kindergartners were able to see the moth emerging and its wings expanding bit-by-bit...what a fantastic treat!
Now that we knew what it was, we did a little more research to learn how best to release it. We waited til dusk, set the aquarium out under some foliage under the same rose bush pictured above and crossed our fingers. In the morning, it was gone - hopefully to carry out its mothly duties.
Polyphemus moths mate and lay eggs for a week before they bid adieux. About 2 weeks from the time we set this one free, there were teensy green caterpillars allll over this rose bush! Since none of them made it to cocoondom, I don't know if they were the offspring of our Polly or not. There have been many green 'pillar babies in this rose bush over the years, and I like to believe that it's sort of the Home Tree for Polly's descendants. Wraps up the story better that way, plus what's life without a little fairy tale ending every once in a while, right?