Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Science with Milky Way

Saturday night I inspected my in-laws milkweed plants in hopes of finding some monarch butterfly caterpillars.  I was excited to find some!  We took the largest one home, gave it a comfy bedroom/kitchen instead of a gold fish bowl.  Gave it a twig, since it was fairly good size and I thought might be ready to make a chrysalis soon. 

He molted the first night!  Here he is.  Isn't he cute!?  Look at that hole he ate!  Gives new meaning to "The Very Hungry Caterpillar!"

Milky Way eating

Here's a picture of a day he got to sunbathe a bit:
Milky Way outsideHis head is on the right.  See his six pointy little legs up near his head?  The ones in back are false legs called prolegs.  The antennae-like things are sense organs.

Anyway, the girls named him Milky Way.   We gave him fresh milkweed and cleaned out his home everyday.  He seemed rather happy in his new home.  Until today.

Today was a bad day.  First, he had a visitor in his home--an unwelcome one.  An eentsy-weentsy spider.  The spider seemed to bite him a couple times!  The spider jumped on him and then a few seconds later Milky Way suddenly jerked toward the spider, as if it had bite him! 

I killed the spider.  I took Milky Way out to see if he was OK.  When I touched him, he didn't even move.  So, I touched his antennae-like thingies on his head and he moved it a tiny bit.  I don't know if he was paralyzed or playing dead!

Later, he seemed to recover and went back to munching.   We took him to our co-op meeting with us.   The girls ended up going home with a friend, so poor Milky Way had to ride alone in the back seat on the floor. 

On the way home, I kept an eye out for milkweed--our supply was quickly diminishing!  I thought I spied a patch, so I hit the brakes to turn into a driveway.  And poor little Milky Way tumbled up to the front seat.

He was clinging to the net that covered the top of his bowl.  I had covered the top with a piece of potato bag.  I knew the holes were large enough for him to get through, but I made sure his stick wasn't up so high, so he couldn't reach it.  Except today.

I stopped at my in-laws house to scrounge up some more milkweed and while I was talking to them, Milky Way got out of Dodge.  Guess he decided he'd had enough of this mad woman driver and he was cutting his losses.

I searched the van for a long time, but alas, he's gone.  I even placed some milkweed on the floor in case he could smell it and would be attracted to it.  (Can caterpillars smell?).  I'm going to go out one last time tonight and see if he's there.  Otherwise, I guess I'll assume he crawled out a window and hopefully has found another milkweed plant to munch on.

Vaya con Dios, Milky Way.  I hope you make it to Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. That's the best caterpillar picture ever! LOVE IT!


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