Saturday, November 3, 2012

Peyton and friends find a caterpillar

Peyton, Davis, Zach and A.J. (left to right)

Awhile ago, I was at my desk, editing butterfly images, when someone knocked on the front door and rang the door bell.

"Miss Sheryl! We found a caterpillar!" Davis exclaimed. He's the little brother of Peyton, our seventh-grade neighbor. "Can you come and look at it?"

"Sure," I said, "let me get my camera."

So off I went. Peyton and his buddies, A.J. and Zach, were seated on the gravel along the street in front of Peyton's house. Everyone was bent over their find....a chubby caterpillar.

"Oh, that's just like the ones that James and I found in the Meadow a week or so ago!" I said. "A white-lined sphinx caterpillar." Then I suggested that we carry it to the Meadow, so it could do what it needed to do in a safer location. They agreed. So I carried the caterpillar in my hand (yes, it tried to chomp me a few times) while we trekked over to the Meadow. I set it down, and it started digging. Which is what the boys had said it was doing when they first found it. Hmm, that's interesting....

The boys and I left the caterpillar atop the ground....
Before they headed home, we looked up the caterpillar in Peyton's Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars of North America (which Davis had made a special trip into his house to get...thanks, Davis!) "This species overwinters as a pupa in the soil," states the species account. 

By golly, that's what our caterpillar needed to do. And it was doing exactly that--digging into the ground! Later, my daughter's boyfriend, Benjamin, and I walked out to check on the caterpillar.

"I've never seen a caterpillar dig before," he said as we watched it scoop and gnaw at the ground. Cool!
When I returned later with my camera, it had made a lot of progress....
An hour or so later when I returned, it was out and about, digging and moving dirt.

I watched it dig for a little while....

And then it went back into a resting state? I guessed that's what it was doing when it went into a U shape.
After supper, James, Benjamin, Lindsey and I walked back out to the Meadow to check on the caterpillar one more time. It was GONE! Pretty neat, eh?

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