But oh did he grow.
I completely understand where Eric Carle for the inspiration for The Hungry Caterpillar. These little fellas eat and eat and eat and eat. And then when we brought home fresh milkweed we inevitably brought home more hungry mouths hatching from the leaves.
We realized that Fatty, as he was dubbed, didn't like air conditioning. So after a few days indoors we moved them out in to the heat where they were all happy and warm.
Of course we did the appropriate reading including Zach's favorite which was The Story Of The Butterfly Children by Elsa Beskow. And non-stop playing with the Butterfly life cycle tiles and beautiful wooden monarch by Mama Roots.
Once the caterpillar shed his skin several times and is good and fat, he climbs up and away from the milkweed and hangs in a "J" preparing himself for the chrysalis stage. Zach was so excited when our first cat went into his "J".
Then there were some problems. There is an icky predator called the tachinid fly who lays its eggs in monarch caterpillar bodies. You never know if your little cats have been infected until they either drop dead before getting nice and fat, or hang in their J, go into their chrysalis, and then lose color and have these white strings hanging off them. Of the approximately 8 caterpillars we ended up with, half died from the tachinid flies.
The other four are at this very moment all in their chrysalis stage. But we have a little hitch in the master plan. We were planning a weekend sail with a bunch of friends and neighbors from the marina. And yesterday morning Zach found this.
In an Herculean effort to chrysalize away from the milkweed as nature pre-programs him to do, one caterpillar escaped our habitat and somehow made it across our cockpit without getting squished and up to our steering wheel. He's happily going through that miraculous metamorphasis... and we're unable to steer the boat until he's finished.
Can you see the beautiful gold specs on the chrysalis? They are just stunning. And we were lucky enough to catch our last little guy IN THE PROCESS of changing. We made a little video of the process, but I tried all night and all morning to load it and Blogger sort of froze up on me. So here is a YouTube link to see what it looks like.
We're starting to see the wings through the chrysalis of our original baby. I truly can not tear Zach away from the habitat. He's keeping a steady watch, reporting enthusiatically about every change. The big question remains, will our steering wheel cat, nicknamed Captain Courageous, emerge before our weekend sailing rendezvous? Stay tuned...