Saturday, September 17, 2016

Caterpillar Trek



I've been looking at bugs again lately, specifically monarch larva. The caterpillars have devoured every green sprig on the large butterfly milkweed plant in my flowerbed where they were hatched, and they are on the move, searching for the perfect place to form a chrysalis. Imagine having to buy your groceries blindfolded at Walmart, and you have the idea.




I kneel down to observe the journey, and it's maddening to watch, like a thriller in slow motion. 
The small creature before me crawls to the end of a long leaf that leads nowhere, 
grips the end of the leaf with his back legs and flails back and forth, groping in the air for any new purchase...




...before turning around and heading back to where where he started. 


At the bottom, a thin blade of grass presents itself, and from the sidelines I call out "No! Bad move! Turn back!", but he is not listening. Half way up the frail stem, the grass doubles over under the weight of the the caterpillar and dumps him to the ground. Then he's up again, walking toward the nearest stem that will take him to a frail leaf and another setback, and, like Serena Williams' father during a tense tennis match, I have to walk away.





One way or another, they all manage to find their places without my help. With thin silken strands, they attach their back end to some stem or leaf. 
Falling limp, they dangle upside down, curled into a J shape. Then they wait. 






When the moment is right, a transformation takes place and a chrysalis is formed, an exquisite jewel studded with fine gold. 
In the next ten days, more or less, a butterfly will develop inside the shelter of this bright green package, 
and for the time being, at least, I can exhale.



Linking with Saturday's Critters


10 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hello, it is a beautiful caterpillar, pretty colors. Awesome collection of photos! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Gayle - venturesinphotos said...

Oh my goodness Grace. Your narration of this process was captivating along with the perfect photos.

Mosura said...

Wonderful series of photos. Hope you get some nice shots when the imago emerges.

pens and needles said...

This is so neat, Grace. I love it! I'm very thankful for your patience -- and your camera and the ability to use it so perfectly.

Brian King said...

Fantastic detail!

Happyone said...

Wow what an impressive series of pictures. Really!!

pattisjarrett said...

I just love the process of metamorphosis! I found about a half dozen good-sized ones on our butterfly weed today. Won't be long they'll be making that long journey to Mexico.

Felicia said...

wonderful captures. love your narration. hope you capture the butterfly coming out.

dinascitywildlife.com said...

Amazing details!

Irene said...

Awesome macros! Love your posts under too ... so many great captures!

Irene