Tuesday, April 5, 2011
So, we have had monarch butterfly caterpillars living inside on their swan plants this season. We brought them in as they were getting eaten by something outside. Watching them grow and caring for them has been a job Jed has taken very seriously. He watched one caterpillar make its chrysalis and then watched it hatch. Magical. He named this butterfly, 'Fred'. Fred is long gone to fly free and enjoy the last of the summer but one of his fellow hatchlings is still around. we named him Doofus. I am not sure who came up with it but it certainly stuck. Monarch caterpillars usually spend two weeks or so in caterpillar form. Doofus spent eight weeks as a caterpillar. This guy would crawl onto a tasty big leaf, then turn around and eat the stem. Yup. And fall. Er, not just once either. And Doofus kept wandering off...we would find him earnestly trying to eat a sofa cushion on the other side of the room, or in a shoe. I did not hold high hopes of Doofus making it to a butterfly. I had gently prepared Jed for this. But he surprised me. In spite of not being quite as chubby as most are when they make a chrysalis...he did it. His chrysalis was a little bumpy at first but Doofus pulled it off. Usually monarch caterpillars spend two or so weeks in chrysalis form but not Doofy. Making up for lost time he popped out this morning, 9 days after he went in. It is safe to say i just about fell over in surprise to see he had all parts a butterfly should have. I would not have been surprised to see one wing or purple and lime spotted body, such has Doofus's path been a truly unique one. But....after a few hours and on closer inspection I realised his tongue was in two parts and one was most definitely stuck on the chrysalis shell. Poor dude. I helped (heart in mouth and so gently) a bit and freed him from it, but he still begins his butterfly life with a piece of dry chryslis on the end of his tongue. As Jed says,' it makes him look a bit funny'. Tongue accessory aside, he is beautiful. No longer called Doofus, Jed has named him Buttercup. We are hoping these strong chilly winds have abated in the morning, so Buttercup can join Fred and their fellows in the skies.